Man Killed in Officer-Involved Shooting Suffered Mental Health Issues

We're getting new information about what may have led to that officer involved shooting at the federal building in Evansville Tuesday.

Vanderburgh County Coroner Steve Lockyear says Ricky Ard had a schizophrenic episode when he broke windows at the building.

In a statement to Eyewitness News, Ard's family said he had a long documented history of mental illness. Some officials are calling for more action on mental health in light of Tuesday's incident.

"Huge burden for the family. Huge burden for the first responders," says Lockyear. He says there was no timetable for how long Ard had suffered schizophrenic episodes. He says the family did all they could to help.

"It's a tough, tough road to travel for family, the medical community, and law enforcement because, ultimately, sometimes law enforcement comes in contact with people that are having some sort of mental breakdown," Lockyear says.

Ard's family says they cannot help but consider how his mental illness impacted the events as they unfolded, and while they sought help for him, they were restricted from doing so due to current mental health laws for adults. Ard was never charged with a crime before Tuesday's incident.

"Mental illness is so much tougher than, maybe, a physical problem," says Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding, whose department is not involved in the investigation. He says more needs to be done to address mental health issues, and help those affected. One idea: a regional mental health center

"If that worked, then they can take that throughout the state, or have facility serve 10 or 12 counties in their particular area. It's an idea right now, and it'd take a lot of money to get it off the ground, but it is a reasonable idea and proposal."

In the statement, ard's family adds they pray the tragic situation will encourage everyone to get educated on mental health.

 

Full statement from the Ard family: 

The Ard family would like to express our deepest gratitude to the community for the heartfelt outpouring of sympathy. We are very much appreciative of all the expressions of support.

As anyone can imagine, losing a loved one unexpectedly is incredibly difficult, and even more so under the circumstances that we lost our brother, son, uncle and friend, Ricky.

Ricky had a long, documented history of mental illness. As we grieve and continue to process the events of Ricky's death, we cannot help but to consider how his mental illness impacted the events as they unfolded. We know that to the officers and bystanders Ricky was seemingly violent, but to us he was in dire need of medical attention. Regrettably, we cannot change the events and the outcome of what transpired on Tuesday.

Ricky had never charged with a crime of violence, which adds to our grief.

We as a family sought help for Ricky, but were restricted from doing so due to the current mental health laws for adults.

In conclusion, we pray that this tragic situation will encourage everyone to get educated on mental health. Learn how to identify the signs and symptoms; learn how to provide care to those who need it. We can only hope other Evansville citizens, and citizens nationwide, will have access to prompt continuous and comprehensive mental health treatment throughout their lifetime.

We will miss his smile, his laughter, and his spirit. Please continue to pray for the Ard Family and all those who loved Ricky. Please consider our family during this time and respect our privacy as we continue to grieve.

With deep sadness,

The Ard Family

 

(This story was originally published on September 1, 2017)


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