Family of Alabama man who died in police custody details conversation with Walker County sheriff

JASPER, Ala. (WIAT) — Lawyers for medical staff named in the federal lawsuit filed on behalf of Anthony “Tony” Mitchell said their clients did try to get Mitchell help on the day he died.

A news release sent from McCallum, Hoaglund & McCallum, L.L.P., who is representing nursing staff members named in the lawsuit, states that their clients did request an ambulance during the hours of 4:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. on January 26. Mitchell died at the hospital later that day.

“Based on our current investigation, we can already confirm that QCHC’s nurses, including the nurses who have been named as Defendants, requested a transfer during the time period referenced in the Complaint,” according to the release.

The release also said “These individuals were assured an ambulance had been called. The nurses’ requests are fully documented and confirmed by the county.”

The release also claimed that medical staff were never told that Mitchell was placed in a freezer.

“No one ever reported to our nurses that Mr. Mitchell was placed in the kitchen freezer by jail employees as alleged in the Complaint,” the release said.

“Our current investigation does not support that this occurred. QCHC will update this statement as this investigation continues,” the release states.

QCHC, Quality Correctional Health Care, is a medical company based out of Birmingham. The company provides inmate health services at city and county jails, including the Walker County Jail.

The company said “We are working with all parties in the case, including Ms. Mitchell’s attorney, to fully investigate Mr. Mitchell’s death.”

Tony Mitchell died while in custody of the Walker County Sheriff’s Office on January, 26. His family filed a wrongful death lawsuit claiming he froze to death inside the Walker County Jail. The lawsuit details what his family believes happened to him during the two weeks he was in custody, claiming he was likely placed in the jail’s kitchen walk in freezer or similar frigid environment and left for hours.

Medical records note that Mitchell had a rectal temperature of 72 degrees. Those records also note he was unresponsive, pulseless, and cold to the touch when he arrived at the hospital. The medical records also stated “I do believe that hypothermia is the cause of death.” An official autopsy report is still pending.

Lawyers for the sheriff’s office responded to the lawsuit and in a motion to strike said the allegation that Mitchell was placed in a freezer is “scandalous”. Attorneys for the sheriff’s office maintain Mitchell was not placed in a freezer.

Video captured from inside the jail on the day of Mitchell’s death shows him being carried out of the jail and placed inside a patrol car. The video contradicts a previous statement from the sheriff’s office that said he was “alert and conscious” when he left the jail.

Since then, Mitchell’s family’s lawyers released eight surveillance videos of Mitchell from inside the jail. One shows him naked being wrestled to the ground by officers. One officer appears to hold up a stun gun and then drag him out of an office.

The circumstances surrounding Mitchell’s death are being investigated by ALEA, the SBI and the FBI. As of publication time the investigation is still ongoing.

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