Mother hopes new billboard campaign saves lives

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Adina Peyton, the mother of Brad Pugh, has been seeking answers from the City of Huntsville and city police for months now. Monday, she launched a billboard campaign to bring more awareness to her son’s death.

“You know we can put a man on the moon here in Huntsville, Alabama but we can’t resolve an issue like this,” she said. “My son was shot 16 times during a suicidal standoff, with him being on the top of Ted’s BBQ. I decided that I would try to bring some attention to this horrific problem that we’re experiencing, not only in Huntsville but all over the United States.”

Peyton said the problem revolves around law enforcement officers being dispatched to mental health calls in the first place.

“Our 911 crisis calls are being handed off to the police, who are sometimes ending them in tragedy, which is what happened with my son,” Peyton said. “I brought this issue to the city council for three and a half, four months. Begging for answers.”

Several community members attended the billboard unveiling, including a few faces from Huntsville’s social activism scene.

“Mental illness is not a crime,” said Remus Bowden. “It’s not a crime that should be punishable by death. It’s not a crime at all.”

“We just need to get the City of Huntsville working with us to implement a plan that could prevent this,” said Melissa Knight.

And recently the city did announce it was moving forward with a three-tier co-response program geared toward ultimately making mental health professionals the sole responders for mental health crisis calls.

Peyton said she’s encouraged by that move, however, she still wants to know exactly what happened the night her son died.

“I don’t understand why this is so sacred,” she said. “Body cams were put on police officers to show us the truth. To protect police officers and to protect our children, and my son’s child, and his other child. These kids don’t have a daddy, and they want to know what happened. ‘Why did this happen to my daddy?'”

The City of Huntsville issued a statement Monday afternoon.

“Losing a loved one is tragic under any circumstance, and the City extends its deepest sympathies to Ms. Peyton and her family. Cases involving mental illness are challenging for all involved. When Bradley Pugh ran toward a neighborhood with a gun and turned and pointed the gun at pursuing officers, he placed many lives at risk. The incident has been investigated by the Madison County District Attorney and no wrongdoing has been found on the part of Huntsville police.

Ms. Peyton and her attorney were given access to speak with Internal Affairs and review the incidents surrounding the death of her son. The review of relevant video included body camera, car camera, and security camera footage of what happened that night. Ms. Peyton, understandably, chose to leave the room and not personally view the video, but her attorney and a friend stayed to watch. Ms. Peyton was given an additional opportunity to review the presentation but declined.

The City has provided sufficient access to relevant information to allow Ms. Peyton to learn what led to her son’s tragic death. For a number of reasons, including the privacy interests of Mr. Pugh’s entire family, the City respectfully declines to make the video available to the general public.”

City of Huntsville

Peyton said she wants to see footage in its entirety, with audio. Not just what the city deems relevant for her to watch.

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