Family files lawsuit after death of inmate in Walker County

Walker County Sheriffs Office

By WVUA 23 News Student Reporters Savannah Denton and Emily Benito

The Walker County Sheriff’s Office is facing several lawsuits and public outrage after an inmate died in its custody last month.

On Wednesday, protesters gathered in front of the Walker County Jail, searching for answers after the death of inmate Anthony “Tony” Mitchell.

In addition, protesters are calling for Walker County Sheriff Nick Smith and other deputies to resign.

Mitchell died two weeks after he was arrested and charged with attempted murder Jan. 12. The charges stemmed from an officer-involved shooting following what Mitchell’s relatives say was a major mental health crisis.

Mitchell’s family has filed a lawsuit alleging that Walker County Sheriff’s office is civilly responsible for his death.

According to the lawsuit, Mitchell suffered abuse and medical neglect in the Walker County Jail and was kept isolated in a walk-in freezer for hours before he was taken to a hospital. Medical examiners determined his cause of death was hypothermia.

According to court documents, the emergency room physician who treated Mitchell spent more than three hours trying to resuscitate him. Mitchell’s medical records from the hospital recorded his internal body temperature at 72 degrees upon his arrival. 

The lawsuit questions: “How does a man literally freeze to death while incarcerated in a modern, climate-controlled jail, in the custody and care of corrections officers?” 

A petition is circulating in the Walker County community, aimed at removing those involved in Mitchell’s death from their duties. Protest organizer Terry Cagle said that as of Wednesday evening, more than 600 people have signed the petition.

“We as citizens are very worried and concerned this will just be something that is buried,” Cagle said. “It tends to be the outcome, generally, of this county. I think citizens here in Walker County are concerned because this is the first time we have gotten real tangible evidence of things that many people in our community have spoken up or witnessed or have testified to believing is going on.”

The Walker County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.

Protestors said they will continue their efforts Saturday afternoon.

Categories: Alabama News, Crime, Local News