TALLADEGA COUNTY -- A Talladega County jury of 12 men and one woman was seated Monday to try the case of a Sylacauga man accused of the attempted murder of Sylacauga police officers.
Timothy Riddlehoover, 63, allegedly called 911 from his home on South Norton Avenue just after midnight on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015, initially complaining that he had taken “extra medicine,” then saying he had been trying to call 911 for the past half hour, “but the phone kept calling 411.”
According to a 911 tape played for the jury Monday, he refused to tell the dispatcher specifically what sort of medicine he had taken.
According to the tapes, Riddlehoover also told the dispatcher that he had three handguns, and that all three were loaded. In a series of profane comments over the phone, he seemed to alternately threaten suicide or the lives of anyone actually responding to his call. He eventually hung up, and further attempts to contact him by telephone were unsuccessful.
Several Sylacauga police officers responded to the call and were on the scene within minutes of the beginning of the phone call.
Sgt. Shane Bland, who testified Monday, said he and other officers were trained to take “a tactical approach” rather than walking a straight line toward a house in this situation. Looking through a window, he said he could see Riddlehoover still on the phone with 911.
Bland said he tapped on the window but did not announce himself as a police officer because this was not part of the standard procedure in a case like this. He then stepped to his left, standing in front of a brick wall between the front door and the window, turned sideways. After some more profanity, Riddlehoover fired through the door.
“I heard a tremendous concussion, and then it was like somebody threw sand in my face,” Bland said, describing the shards from the shattered storm door hitting him while the bullet flew by inches from his chest.
He jumped off the porch and took shelter behind a car. According to video from police body cameras, another officer demanded that Riddlehoover come out with his hands up, which prompted a second shot from inside the residence.
According to the body camera videos, during the first 30 minutes of the standoff, Riddlehoover can be heard firing seven shots. Prosecutors Christina Kilgore and Jake Argo said the guns recovered inside the house where Riddlehoover was captured match the descriptions that he had given to the 911 dispatcher earlier: a .45 caliber, a .40 caliber and a 9 mm. He was taken into custody following a standoff that lasted about three hours.
Jurors spent most of the day Monday listening to the 911 tape and watching footage taken by the body cameras of some of the officers who responded. Testimony is expected to continue Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.
Defense attorney Jon Adams told the jury Monday that Riddlehoover may have been suffering from side effects of a new medication, may have taken too much of the medication and was drunk.
He added that while voluntary intoxication is not a defense in a criminal case in Alabama, Riddlehoover’s intoxication during the incident would be enough to negate any intent, which is one of the elements the state needs to prove to make a case for attempted murder.
If convicted, Riddlehoover faces 20 to 99 years or life in prison.