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Madison woman shot and killed by police struggled with mental illness

BY ANNA DURRETT / REPORTER

Court documents show the woman shot and killed by Madison police early Saturday morning had a history of mental illness. Madison police shot and killed the woman when she pointed a handgun at them, according to the Madison City Police Department.

Madison resident Deborah Jo Day, 55, was shot outside, near her home in the 100 block of Michael Avenue. Day was transported to Huntsville Hospital where she later died, according to Madison police.

The Madison County 911 Center received multiple calls at approximately 3:49 a.m. about a white woman with a handgun walking on Michael Avenue threatening to shoot her neighbors.

Madison police arrived at the scene and made repeated demands for Day to drop her weapon. Day proceeded to raise the gun toward the officers and she was shot by police.

The Madison County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident. The Madison City Police Department is conducting an internal review. The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave. No officers were injured.

Day had a history of mental illness, including schizoaffective disorder, according to Madison County court documents from 2004.

Day was arrested for writing five fraudulent checks in 2003 to supermarkets, including checks to Food World, Star Market and Bruno’s. The bad check with the highest amount was to Star Market for $262.06.

She previously was arrested in 2002 for the fraudulent use of a Sears credit card she obtained in her ex-husband’s name.

A court-ordered evaluation of Day by Dr. Randal Burleson was conducted on June 30, 2004, in order to see if she was competent to stand trial for credit card fraud. Burleson found Day competent for trial.

The evaluation states Day said she was first diagnosed with a mental illness in 1993 or 1994. She said she was seen briefly at the Mental Health Center of Madison County and had been seen there consistently since 1998.

The document shows Day lived in Virginia between 1994 and 1996, where she was briefly hospitalized and diagnosed as having depression, delusional disorder and paranoid personality disorder.

Due to mental illness and dangerous behavior in August 2002, Day was involuntarily committed to Huntsville Hospital and then North Alabama Regional Hospital in Decatur, according to the document.

In the evaluation Day said she was taking two milligrams of the anti-psychotic medicine Risperdal for schizoaffective disorder at the time.

Burleson wrote about schizoaffective disorder in his report. “This is a severe psychiatric disorder that involves periods of psychosis and periods, sometimes concurrent, of extreme moods. People who have this disorder often exhibit poor judgment.”

Day had additional altercations with the law in the local area, including disorderly conduct, in which she allegedly threatened the lives of some of her co-workers, resisting arrest, a child custody dispute, and a pet custody dispute.

The evaluation by Burleson shows Day said she grew up in Virginia as the sixth of 11 children. She said she studied political science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville for three years and accounting at the National Career College in Huntsville.

Day said she did office and restaurant work mostly until she began receiving disability payments due to mental illness around late 2002 or early 2003.

According to Day, she had two children and had been married three times. She said her oldest child had been adopted and her mother raised her youngest child.

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