Court Security

Unrestrained at Counsel's Request, Murder Defendant Punches His Lawyer in Competency Hearing Ruckus

A visibly agitated Virginia man facing a capital triple homicide case was unrestrained Wednesday at a competency hearing, as defense counsel requested.

That resulted in a ruckus in the historic Madison County Courthouse as Rashad Riddick, 25, repeatedly punched his court-appointed lawyer, Joseph Flood, in the face before security tackled him and took him to the brick floor, reports the Star-Exponent.

All involved toppled over the counsel table, breaking two of its legs, the newspaper recounts. As Riddick slid across the floor, despite the sheriff’s deputies and jail personnel on his back, and reached through a gate toward the public seating area, there were gasps and screams from the audience. Meanwhile, Flood, whose face was bruised after the incident, called out to the officers “Don’t hurt him!”

Both attorney and client refused medical treatment.

Riddick had been agitated from the outset of the hearing, apparently due to what Flood described as “the touchy issue” of his mental health, interrupting his lawyers and objecting as they were trying to discuss with the judge his recent mental assessment at a hospital in Petersburg.

“It has been our position he has serious mental health issues,” Flood told Circuit Judge Daniel Bouton after the melee. “This illustrates it perhaps better than any argument I can make in court.”

Madison County Commonwealth’s Attorney George Webb asked that Riddick be restrained at future hearings, and Bouton promised full restraints would be used.

No determination was made as to Riddick’s competency, which will be addressed again at a September hearing.

Sheriff Erik Weaver told WCAV that Riddick punched Flood three or four times in his jaw and torso.

At the next hearing, Riddick will be wearing leg restraints and a waist belt, the sheriff said. “We will have a react belt which is actually a device that you put on him; it’s a shocking device if he acts up again. He will actually be shocked; it kind of paralyzes him almost like a Taser.”

Hat tip: Associated Press

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