A Florida man who served in the US Marine Corps was reportedly suffering from PTSD when he was shot by Tampa Police, according to those who were close to him.
48-year-old Sidney T. Richardson IV was believed to be suffering a mental breakdown on Saturday when he was shot by TPD officers after arming himself with a machete and barricading himself in a room with a 17-year-old relative.
Richardson was Tased by police with no effect prior to being shot by one of the officers, identified as TPD Officer Juan Hernandez.
Only hours prior, the Iraq veteran had attempted to contact J.R. Walton, one of his former subordinates and a close friend whom he deployed with to both Iraq and Africa. Placing the call at 1843 Eastern Time, Walton was unable to answer the phone due to his job.
“By 8 o’clock, he was dead,” Walton told the Tampa Bay Times on Monday.
Friends and family have been left with many questions in the shooting of Richardson, who was described as a soft-spoken, kind Christian man who had previously sought mental health treatment but began to unravel shortly before his untimely death.
“I literally watched him start losing it,” Walton said. “It’s been getting worse in probably the last six months. He could be in a good mood now and in five minutes it’s a total switch.”
Walton said Richardson was his platoon leader when they served with the Marines’ 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2002. They would later serve together during a tour in Djibouti before Richardson was honorably discharged around five years ago.
Michelle Williams, Walton’s mother-in-law, said that Richardson had trouble navigating the bureaucracy that plagues the Department of Veterans Affairs, particularly when it came to seeking help for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He reportedly began treatment in 2015 and was only formally diagnosed a year ago.
“He was getting care and going to his appointments,” she said. “He was on top of everything but he was still suffering from deep depression.”
Walton said that Richardson was relatively calm when they spoke earlier on Saturday morning.
As an investigation continues into the shooting, family members are still reeling in the shock of the situation.
“Today, my life changed forever,” Richardson’s brother Reggie Richardson Sr., posted Saturday on Facebook. “I lost my brother Sidney Richardson to PTSD. Please understand it is serious with our vets. Keep me and family in your prayers.”
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