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Slain man mentally ill, say relatives

The man shot and killed by a Tampa police officer Saturday night suffered from mental illness for years and had stopped taking his medication, relatives said.

Alan Mark Houseman, 50, roamed the streets picking up cigarette butts and once attacked a woman he thought was an alien.

"He has a case (file) a mile long" at a Tampa crisis center, said his sister-in-law, Ceida Houseman of Clearwater.

The shooting is another violent ending to an encounter between a police officer and a mentally disturbed person.

News accounts show that at least seven other Tampa Bay area residents with a history of mental illness have died during encounters with law enforcement officers in the past 10 years. Last month, a Clearwater police officer fatally shot a man described as manic-depressive.

Tampa police officials said Officer Rebecca Bodamer was in her patrol car writing a report near Platt Street and S Hyde Park Avenue about 7 p.m. when she radioed in a report of a suspicious person.

Officials said Bodamer approached Houseman, and he took her metal police baton and hit her on the head with it. During a struggle, Bodamer pulled her gun and shot Houseman four times.

Bodamer, 39, was taken to Tampa General Hospital and released after being treated for a cut above her left ear. She has been placed on administrative leave while the shooting is investigated.

Ceida Houseman said her brother-in-law was a paranoid schizophrenic who had experimented with drugs in the 1970s when he studied pre-law at the University of Tampa. He had wanted to be an FBI agent but couldn't because he was color blind, she said.

About five years ago, doctors took Houseman off Haldol (Haloperidol), a drug widely prescribed to schizophrenics. Ceida Houseman said doctors changed his medication because the Haldol was depleting sodium in his body.

"Nothing has been right since. Nothing is strong enough," she said.

Ceida Houseman and her husband, David, wanted Alan Houseman to move to Clearwater after his mother died two years ago, but he didn't want to leave the home in Hyde Park where he had grown up. She said his behavior turned more aggressive. In April 2001, he was arrested on battery charges. Ceida Houseman said he hit a woman standing on the street corner because he thought she was an alien.

Residents in Houseman's neighborhood said he often wore several outfits a day, and walked the streets picking up cigarette butts.

Ceida and David Houseman have worked for the city of Tampa for years, and they said many city employees, including police officials, knew about Alan Houseman's mental illness.

Last month, Ceida Houseman said, he stopped taking his medication. On the Saturday of the Gasparilla parade, the Housemans asked police to commit Alan Houseman to a mental center for evaluation. But he had not harmed anyone, and police could not take him into custody, Ceida Houseman said.

David Houseman on Friday filed paperwork to have his older brother picked up by the crisis center and monitored until resuming his medication, a process that had worked in the past.

Several times on Saturday, the Housemans drove to Alan's home at 332 Plant Ave., just across the street from where he was shot, but he was not home.

"We just assumed that he had been picked up, and that was good in our eyes," Ceida Houseman said.

About midnight Saturday, a police officer knocked on their door and told them Alan had been killed.

The Housemans said they don't blame the police officer who fired the shots, but are frustrated by their attempts to get help.

"The system definitely has failed us," Ceida Houseman said. "Now, Alan is dead, and how do you take that back? How do you fix it?"

_ Times staff writer Jay Cridlin contributed to this report. Kevin Graham can be reached at kgrahamsptimes.com.

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