DA, HPD: Officers’ use of deadly force justified in Five Points shootings, family responds

Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The office of District Attorney Robert Broussard determined that the Huntsville Police Department was justified in their use of deadly force on November 16, 2020, when a man was shot and killed.

According to the DA, the office reviewed all material related to the investigation and determined the actions of the officers involved were justified under the law.

Huntsville police say the incident was also investigated by an Incident Review Board. The IRB determined that the use of force by the officers was within departmental policy.

41-year-old Bradley Pugh was killed after a standoff with police in Huntsville’s Five Points area in November.

Huntsville Police say they were called to investigate a possible gunman on the roof of a business on Andrew Jackson Way just south of Star Market around 9:30 p.m.

Police say they saw a person on the roof with a handgun when they arrived at the Ted’s Bar-B-Q at 212 Andrew Jackson Way.

Police were able to negotiate with the man for him to come down a ladder. A police spokesperson said the man came down the ladder around 1:30 a.m. and tried to run when officers tried to apprehend him.

During the foot chase, police said Pugh pulled the gun from his waistband and multiple officers shot him. Police did not say how many officers fired shots.

Pugh was treated on the scene by HEMSI responders but died before being taken to the hospital.

Pugh’s family responded to the news by issuing a statement through their lawyer. The statement from Adina Peyton, Pugh’s mother, reads in full:

As Brad’s mother, since shortly after his death, I have been seeking answers to basic questions about my son’s death from the City. I never asked for criminal charges. I wanted answers. I wanted to understand how this happened. I wanted to understand if there were lessons that could save a future Brad. I wanted non-criminal accountability of some sort if errors were made. The City has denied me answers. I wasn’t even told that the DA press release was coming even though I have been in regular communication with city attorney Trey Riley for weeks.

The City wants to hide behind a DA press release that, based on news articles, provides mostly conclusions, few details, and certainly no answers to some of my most basic questions like . . . What did HPD do to avoid being confronted with a suicidal person who wanted the police to shoot him? Did the city get appropriate professionals involved? Why was Brad allowed to come off the roof with a gun? Why wasn’t Brad taken down immediately after he came off the roof? How is it that the non-lethal force used by the officers was so ineffective? Was there no plan? Brad was one guy against the might of HPD SWAT. I just don’t understand.

I would hate to think HPD just got tired of the standoff and decided to let Brad come down with a gun to be “justifiably” shot (as Brad apparently wanted in his troubled mental state). So who gave the okay for Brad to come off the roof with his gun? Why? Did HPD know or believe that Brad’s gun had no bullets? That is a big fact neither the DA nor HPD have bothered to mention. Brad was armed with an empty gun.

It seems obvious to me that the tragedy that resulted was likely inevitable once the decision was made to let Brad, a man who had a gun and wanted to be shot, to come off the roof, but maybe there were good reasons to let him come down with a gun. Maybe there was a good plan that just did not work. I don’t know because HPD believes it does not have to answer questions from anyone, even Brad’s mother. Why does HPD shoot Brad and never have to hold a press conference and answer questions. Is it because someone like Brad, he just doesn’t matter? Is it because HPD believes it does not have to be accountable when it kills a citizen? Why isn’t the city council demanding answers? If police can kill without any public accountability, whether the person is black, white, man, woman, rich, poor, mentally ill, whatever, the society we live in is less safe for all of us.

The City and the DA now have their “shooting justified, no criminal charges” publicity, but this was never a criminal matter. The City just wants to use the cover of a criminal investigation to avoid answering questions. I accept and understand that no criminal charges are going to be filed, but I cannot accept that this city allows its police department to kill my son and keep all of the details secret. The City does not want to provide me or the public with real answers and be available for real accountability.

If HPD had nothing to hide, why hasn’t it released more information? Why hasn’t the City let me (or my representative) see the body camera footage?

The City’s unwillingness to be transparent with me and the public about what happened and to now hide beneath the DA’s petticoats is everything that is wrong with policing in general and policing in our city.

Adina Peyton

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