After Alabama inmate froze to death in jail, history of disturbing complaints has emerged
FIRST ON FOX – A history of disturbing complaints filed against an Alabama jail is emerging after an inmate reportedly froze to death while being restrained in walk-in freezer in January.
Walker County Jail officials allegedly placed Anthony “Tony” Mitchell, 33, “in a restraint chair in the jail kitchen’s walk-in freezer or similar frigid enforcement and left [him] there for hours,” possibly “as punishment for deputies who had ‘had a time with Tony,’” according to a federal complaint filed this week against the Walker County Sheriff’s Office and jail staff.
He died on Jan. 26.
Mitchell’s attorneys called his death “one of the most appalling cases of jail abuse the country has seen.”
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The Walker County Sheriff’s Office said it was not making any comments at this time.
A source familiar with the jail told Fox News Digital on the condition of anonymity that Mitchell’s case, while “horrific,” is “just the tip of the iceberg of the issues with the Walker County Sheriff’s Department.”
“There have been other jail deaths due to neglect/denial of medical care and allegations of abuse,” the source said.
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In a 2020 example, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of the late Autumn Nichole Harris’ estate after she apparently died of bilateral acute bronchopneumonia on December 5, 2018, when she was 34 years old.
“In and during the several days preceding her death, Autumn exhibited signs and symptoms of obvious physical distress. For example: Autumn remained lying on the floor around-the-clock (physically unable to sit, stand, or walk for any significant amount of time), frequently urinating and defecating on herself; her breathing was extremely labored, marked by loud, abnormal sounds (e.g., grunting, wheezing, etc.); she was unable to eat any food or drink any meaningful amount of fluids; she hallucinated; etc,” the complaint states.
Both Harris and other inmates requested help, but “not one” jail healthcare provider called an ambulance for Autumn” or treated her, allegedly leading to her death.
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In 2018, inmate Deonte Marquise Williams filed a lawsuit against Walker County officials, alleging that a corrections officer abused him for no apparent justifiable reason.
The complaint says that on April 26, 2018, two inmates in Williams’ jail dorm got into a fight, and a corrections officer locked the inmates in their dorms after no one would say who was responsible.
Williams told the officer it was unfair to lock up inmates who were not involved in the fight, at which point the officer allegedly instructed Williams out of his cell and then pepper-sprayed and beat him. The officer then apparently placed Williams in solitary confinement for six days without notice.
In 2015, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against Walker County officials on behalf of the late Eddie Joe Gann’s estate. Gann was an inmate at the Walker County Jail when he died on May 20, 2013.
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The lawsuit alleges that jail officials failed to transport Gann to a hospital when, after”after strenuous exercise,” he “became unconscious, stopped breathing, was without a pulse, and unresponsive.” Gann then regained consciousness shortly after and vomited but was apparently not transported to a hospital to receive treatement. He eventually died in his cell, the complaint states.
Mitchell’s lawyers allege that the 33-year-old “languished naked and dying of hypothermia in the early morning hours of January 26 and his chances for survival trickled away” while “numerous corrections officers and medical staff wandered over to his open cell door to spectate and be entertained by his condition.”
Mitchell’s body temperature was apparently 72 degrees when jail officials put him in a sheriff’s vehicle on the morning of Jan. 26 and drove him to the hospital rather than calling an ambulance, according to the lawsuit.
The physician who examined Mitchell wrote the following: “I am not sure what circumstances the patient was held in incarceration but it is difficult to understand a rectal temperature of 72° F 22° centigrade while someone is incarcerated in jail. The cause of his hypothermia is not clear. It is possible he had a underlying medical condition resulting in hypothermia. I do not know if he could have been exposed to a cold environment. I do believe that hypothermia was the ultimate cause of his death.”
The lawsuit alleges that Walker County authorities violated Mitchell’s civil rights and ultimately ended his life by “improperly training, re-training, instructing, supervising, [and] disciplining” jail officers.
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