HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The mother of Bradley Pugh, who was shot and killed during a standoff with Huntsville Police in November of last year, held a vigil for her son Sunday evening.
Adina Peyton, told a small crowd of people in Huntsville’s Big Springs Park that the vigil was not only about honoring her son’s memory but also dismantling the stigma tied to mental illness. Peyton added that part of that effort required engaging the community on the issue of mental health calls to police.
Pugh was shot 16 times after Huntsville police say he pointed a gun at officers during a standoff at Teds BBQ in Five Points. Over the last six months, Peyton has gone back and forth with Huntsville Police about that night over access to body camera footage.
Last week the city released a statement saying they allowed Peyton and her attorney to view relevant video of the incident. Peyton said she wants access to all of it, not just what the city deems relevant for her to watch.
At Sunday’s vigil, Peyton spoke out against law enforcement officers being dispatched to mental health calls. The city recently announced it was moving forward with a co-response program, that would have a mental health professional join officers at a scene where there is a mental health crisis.
Peyton also addressed the issue of overall declining mental health right now, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. She also spoke directly to those struggling with suicidal thoughts.
“Look at me. Listen to me. I’ve been where you are. I have been where you are and see what you don’t see because you’re in the dark, and the light is just on the other side. We can get you to that light. You can trust me. See what’s happening here is all you have to do is connect heart to heart. People want to believe,” said Peyton.
In the next few weeks, Peyton said she planned to begin addressing these issues on a regular basis during community forums. A date for the first forum has yet to be set.
If you or someone you know needs help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-272-9255.