PICKENS COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — The family of 62-year-old Wallace Wilder of Pickens County is filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the county and the Sheriff’s Office. Wilder was shot and killed in 2019 when officers were doing a wellness check at his residence.
The deputies involved in the shooting, including Pickens County Sheriff Todd Hall, weren’t charged after the investigation. Family members like Wallace’s niece, Renota Harris, say their uncles death was unjust.
“You took a life. Unjustly,” Harris said.
Harris says the family has been grieving ever since and they still wonder why this all happened.
“There was no reason why they should have taken my uncle’s life,” Harris said.
Harris says her uncle suffered from a mental illness and he wasn’t a threat to anyone that day.
“It doesn’t matter if you are the police or not, you don’t have that legal right to break into anyone’s home,” Harris said. “No one was called. No one ever called us. Even after they shot him, no one ever called us.”
Attorneys Richard Rice and Johnathan Austin are representing the family in the case. They tell CBS 42 that there was no cause for the situation to escalate the way it did.
“You know, based on everything we know, there was no probable cause to even enter his apartment anyway,” Rice said.
Austin says he was shocked to find out Sheriff Hall was involved and wonders why the sheriff of the county needs to respond to these type of calls.
“There are laws in the books that require police, that if they know someone is mentally ill, get a community resource officer out there or someone who is trained to deal with that,” Austin said.
Harris hopes this lawsuit can bring justice to her family.
“And not just black men. But the mentally ill that are unjustly killed by the police,” Harris said.
Sheriff Hall says he cannot comment on the case at this time.
The full lawsuit announcement can be watched here.