A man from Alabama was taken to jail. He died of hypothermia.

An Alabama man was taken into custody last month after a violent altercation with police. Two weeks later, he died of hypothermia, apparently after being placed in a prison freezer.

A lawsuit filed Monday by the family of Anthony “Tony” Mitchell alleges officers at the Walker County Jail in Alabama participated in the horrific abuse of the 33-year-old, which ultimately led to his death.

“Tony’s death from hypothermia was the direct and proximate result of these defendants’ willful indifference or malice, and their continued denial of Tony’s constitutional rights under a scheme that continued to operate after his death by making false statements to family members and the media,” the complaint states.

According to the complaint, on Jan. 12, Mitchell’s relative called local police to request a welfare check after Mitchell, who had a history of mental health and substance abuse issues, began experiencing severe delusions. According to a police post on social media, Mitchell became violent, firing at least one shot at officers before fleeing into a wooded area behind his home.

Mitchell was arrested and later charged with attempted murder. According to a local news station, officials noted that at a court appearance on the day of his arrest, Mitchell was “unable to sign” the paperwork.

For the next two weeks, Mitchell will reportedly face a barrage of abuse while incarcerated in the Walker County Jail. According to the complaint, Mitchell was left completely naked during his two weeks in jail — apparently as part of the jail’s “suicide monitoring protocol.” Furthermore, Mitchell was placed in an isolation cell in an area of ​​the prison. The lawsuit describes it as the “equivalent of a doghouse”: a concrete cell with no litter and just a drain in the floor used as a toilet.

Further, the lawsuit alleges that Mitchell — who needed a set of false teeth to eat after losing all of his teeth due to neglect and drug use — had the false teeth removed after the Jan. 15 tasing incident, meaning the already malnourished Mitchell could not eat food properly.

“Tony continued to suffer serious medical and psychiatric needs while confined as a detainee at the jail,” the lawsuit states. “These needs were apparent to every prison officer and all prison staff who came into contact with him.”

On January 27, Mitchell’s bullying seemed to worsen. While it’s hard to know for sure what happened, the lawsuit says Mitchell was taken to a local hospital, where he recorded an internal body temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit. The complaint notes that “the only way for Tony’s body temperature to ‘start to drop’ to 72 degrees in such a short period of time was for him to be placed in a restraint chair in a prison kitchen in a freezer or similar cold room environment and left there for hours.”

Although no video has been released to prove Mitchell was placed in the freezer, Walker Country Police have made multiple false statements about the incident. Shortly after Mitchell’s hospitalization, police stated in a press release that “the inmate was awake and conscious when he left the facility and arrived at the hospital.” However, surveillance video from the prison shows an unconscious and limp Mitchell being carried into the prison’s cargo loading area. The lawsuit also alleges that one officer told Mitchell’s cousin “that when the deputies took Tony to the hospital, the doctor asked Tony to sit down and Tony sat down and that’s when he had a massive heart attack.” However, medical notes indicate that Mitchell arrived unresponsive and that “there was never any purposeful movement or reaction to pain.”

While it’s not clear exactly how Mitchell became hypothermic — although the lawsuit alleges that he was exposed to a cold environment, like a freezer, is plausible — significant abuse by Walker County police is evident from available surveillance footage. Instead of helping a man with serious mental problems and drug addiction, the police stripped him naked and left him in a bare concrete cell. And in their custody he suffered an injury or illness that would later cause his death from hypothermia.

“Every one of these prison officials knows exactly what happened to Tony during that horrific night,” the complaint states. “Each of them was willfully indifferent to his obvious serious medical needs. Each of them, at the very least, failed to intervene in an act of horrific abuse committed by one or more of their fellow prison officers.”

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