The grandparents of the man who shot and critically wounded officer Jackie Tucker last year have filed a lawsuit against the Saraland Police Department and several others, alleging Matthew Blake Richardson was murdered by police.
In a sprawling complaint filed without legal counsel, Alton G. Richardson Jr. and Virginia L. Richardson laid out a number of allegations against local law enforcement, media outlets and medical professionals who treated their grandson — a 27-year-old they described as a “severely mentally ill person.”
Blake Richardson died on Dec. 21, 2016, after opening fire on Tucker and her partner, Ron Hannah, who were responding to a domestic disturbance call at a residence he shared with his grandparents on Martha Alleyn Drive in Saraland.
According to police, one of the shots Richardson fired struck Tucker in the head, critically wounding her. Hannah then dragged her to safety while returning fire toward Richardson — striking him once with a nonfatal shot that penetrated his arm and passed into his rib cage.
In January, Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich called a press conference, where she and Saraland Police Chief J.C. West said state autopsy results suggested Richardson “committed suicide” by shooting himself in the head with a “.40-caliber Glock.”
In the lawsuit filed this month in Mobile County, Alton Richardson agreed his grandson died from a fatal .40-caliber gunshot wound to the head. However, he claims the family has evidence suggesting Blake couldn’t have pulled the trigger himself with a wounded arm.
“Other opinions exist that there were two .40-caliber bullets fired into Blake’s head less than one-half inch apart, fired through a sheet with Blake’s blood spattered on the sheet found on his bed over 20 feet from where he bled down. It would have been impossible to raise his arm from the chest arm wounds or for him to throw the bloody sheet on his bed,” the complaint reads. “Allowing Matthew Blake Richardson to suffer for three and one-half hours, then throwing a sheet over his head and firing two .40-caliber bullets into his head side by side is murder.”
Taking his accusations further, Richardson suggested the actions of those involved in the investigation following Tucker’s shooting give “the appearance of a conspiracy to cover up the killing” of his grandson.
Named in the suit are the city of Saraland, West, Rich, the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, three other cities Richardson alleges sent officers to his property on the day of the incident and multiple local news outlets that reported details of the case as they were released by authorities.
Following the usual protocol for an officer-involved shooting, Saraland PD turned their investigation over the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office immediately after the incident occurred last December.
According to MCSO spokeswoman Lori Myles, their investigation has since concluded and was in line with the statements West and Rich made during their press conference earlier this year.
“Our case is completed,” Myles said. “We didn’t find any wrongdoing on the part of the officer, and we agree with the report the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences [ADFS] sent concluding that [Blake Richardson] committed suicide.”
However, Alton Richardson claims he’s been unable to obtain a copy of his grandson’s autopsy report, adding that a request for a copy was denied by ADFS as recently as this week. While ADFS isn’t specifically named in Richardson’s lawsuit, the “State of Alabama” is.
“We made our second trip to forensic sciences in Mobile today, and they refused to let us have a copy of the autopsy like they refused five months ago,” Richardson said. “The people in Montgomery that the people in Mobile don’t have any business tell you the case is closed.”
A request for a copy of the report filed by Lagniappe is still pending a response from ADFS.
The day after Blake Richardson’s death, Alton Richardson told reporters his grandson had “been on psychiatric medication for seven years, but recently his doctor stopped his medication” — a comment consistent with claims in the lawsuit about a doctor who treated Blake Richardson from 2010 until shortly before his death.
Richardson claims the doctor prescribed his grandson Xanax for years until “she cut off his medication seven days before his death” based on a purportedly unauthorized release of “medical records from Springhill Medical Center.” Those records allegedly showed “Matthew Blake Richardson was using alcohol.” The hospital is also named as a defendant in the case.
While all of the nearly two dozen defendants are mentioned in the initial complaint, Richardson focused specifically on Rich, who gave a number of public statements to the media as the investigation into the incident unfolded.
Among other things, Richardson described Rich as “a cold-hearted person” and “a Nancy Grace form of prosecutor” — comparing her to the television host and former Georgia prosecutor. So far, there hasn’t been a response from any of the defendants, though an initial hearing has been scheduled for later this month before Mobile County Circuit Judge Ben Brooks.
As a pro se filing — meaning they are not working with an attorney — the Richardsons’ chances of a legal victory are reduced, though Alton has represented his own legal interests in the past. The family is demanding a jury trial and seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
In emails to Lagniappe, a public information officer with the Saraland Police Department declined to comment on the lawsuit. Likewise, Rich kept her statements on the subject brief.
“I am being sued,” she wrote. “So, I am unable to comment at this time other than to say the case is closed and there is no open investigation with our office.”
Tucker’s current condition wasn’t disclosed by police in Saraland out of respect for the family’s privacy, though based on their last update, she was transported from USA Medical Center in Mobile to a rehabilitation facility in Georgia in late January.
Updated at 2:00 p.m., May 18, to include comments about the conclusion of the investigation conducted by the Mobile County Sheriff’s Department.