Meridian CAO denies allegations in response to Andreacchio family lawsuit

Richie McAlister

Meridian's chief administrative officer has filed a response denying several allegations in a civil lawsuit brought by the parents of 21-year-old Christian Andreacchio, a Meridian man whose 2014 death has received national attention.

The complaint, filed in December in Lauderdale County Circuit Court by Todd and Rae Andreacchio, accuses Richie McAlister of sharing their son's autopsy photos and claims intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and invasion of privacy.

The case was moved to federal court earlier this month.

Police ruled Andreacchio's death a suicide, but the family maintains he was the victim of a homicide. In 2017, a Lauderdale County grand jury decided not to indict two people in connection with his death.

“For reasons unknown, (McAlister) became deeply determined to convince a now skeptical public that Christian Andreacchio did, in fact, commit suicide,” the family's lawsuit states.

The complaint alleges that “on numerous occasions, McAllister (sic) invited/encouraged citizens of Meridian to visit his office to view the autopsy photos. Once these individuals arrived, he shared the file with them via his computer.”

In a response filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, McAlister denied those allegations.

McAlister also denied that he received copies of the Misssissippi Attorney General's file without having filed a Freedom of Information Act request before the Mississippi Attorney General made the file public.

“The Attorney General's office released its case file, including autopsy photos, to members of the public in July of 2019,” McAlister's response states.

The Andreacchios' lawsuit claims “they now must endure daily the knowledge that the graphic evidence of their most private and personal grief has simply become Ritchie McAllister’s (sic) public water cooler.”

McAlister's response denies that he “engaged in any extreme or outrageous conduct” or “created any pain or suffering or engaged in any act to deter a family from seeking credible answers to questions about the death of their son.”

The Meridian City Council passed a resolution in November requesting that the U.S. Department of Justice open an investigation into the Andreacchio case.

McAlister's attorney, Kermit Kendrick, declined to comment Monday, citing a policy at his law firm regarding ongoing cases in litigation.

A message left with an attorney for the Andreacchio family was not immediately returned.

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