Alabama Man Was Denied Water For Over 70 Hours Before Dying In Police Custody From Hypothermia

At the end of January, Alabama man Anthony “Tony” Mitchell died from hypothermia while also being denied water for 70 hours while in police custody. Now, his family is suing. According to CBS 42, a lawsuit alleges that Mitchell was denied access to medical and mental health treatment, hit with a stun gun, and repeatedly dragged by corrections officers when he could not walk.

Tony Mitchell was taken to Walker County Jail and spent nearly 14 days there before his death on January 26th. Kept in a cell referred to as “the freezer,” due to its cold temperatures, Mitchell was denied a bunk, a sink, or any source of water. The cell only had a small hole in the floor covered with grating that could be used as a toilet.

In those two weeks, the lawsuit claims that Mitchell had been provided a mat, a blanket, and later had a suicide watch garment, but those were all taken from him within the first few days. He spent the majority of the time naked, and sitting on a bare, concrete floor. He was given three meals a day, usually without water, and was allowed to shower less than half of the days he was in police custody.

On the day of his death, a correctional officer offered him water for the first time within 70 hours, but Mitchell had been too weak from dehydration and hypothermia to sit up and drink it. Medical staff advised authorities to take him to a hospital at around 4:17 A.M., but video footage showed that Mitchell wasn’t transported from the facility until over four and a half hours later. At 1:15 P.M., he was pronounced dead.

“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 emergency room’s doctor’s notes state. “The cause of his hypothermia is not clear. . . I do believe that hypothermia was the ultimate cause of his death.”

In a statement released by the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, officials say that Mitchell was alert and conscious as he was rushed to receive medical care. A released surveillance video contradicts those claims, showing that the inmate had to be carried out by multiple staff members. Knowing they were already caught in a massive lie, the lawyer representing the sheriff’s office have yet to respond to the amended complaint.

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