Alabama Jail Guards Killed Inmate By Blowing Frigid Air Into His Cell
ALABAMA, March 24, 2023–in the nights before inmate Anthony Mitchell’s death, guards at an Alabama jail intentionally blew frigid air into the cell of the 33-year-old, who later became hypothermic and died, a new document in a wrongful death lawsuit alleges.
According to an amended complaint, filed Monday by Mitchell’s mother and reviewed by Insider, correctional officers “intentionally caused extremely cold air to blow through the roof vents” of Mitchell’s cell in the Walker County Jail on the nights of January 25 and January 26.
Mitchell was carried out of his cell on January 26 after being incarcerated for 14 days “under hellish conditions,” the lawsuit alleges.
By the time Mitchell was transported to a local hospital, his internal body temperature was 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and staff spent over three hours unsuccessfully trying to resuscitate him, Insider previously reported. He was then pronounced dead.
Insider has reached out to the Walker County Jail for comment.
According to Monday’s filing, the outside temperature on the nights he was in his cell was in the “low thirties Fahrenheit,” meaning if guards blew outside air into Mitchell’s cell, it would have been “frigid,” the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit alleges that the cell in which Mitchell was held, BK5, is known among staffers and inmates as “the freezer” because of guards’ ability to “subject inmates to frigid temperatures there.” The lawsuit alleges this would have been the coldest cell in the jail.
The lawsuit alleges Mitchell was deprived of water for over 70 hours, and couldn’t eat because his false teeth were confiscated
The filing alleges that Mitchell became “severely hypothermic overnight and into the morning hours” after “deputies deliberately exposed Mitchell to a frigid environment.”
Mitchell was also deprived of water for 70 hours, the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit said BK5 lacks a water source, and therefore inmates can only access water if a member of the jail’s staff brings a cup of water, or allows the inmate out of the cell to retrieve their own cup of water.
The lawsuit said footage from the jail’s booking room shows that Mitchell received his last cup of water around 4:30 a.m. on January 23, and did not show him receiving any water or leaving the cell until he was carried out on January 26. The lawsuit even said the footage showed Mitchell holding his cup to the window of his cell, apparently asking for water, but not receiving it.
Mitchell was kept in BK5, an isolation cell in the jail’s booking area, between January 12 and January 26, the lawsuit said. Mitchell’s cell lacked a bed or anything else to sleep on and only had a drain in the floor for a toilet, according to the lawsuit.
Jail staff also took Mitchell’s false teeth on January 15, following an incident in which he was shocked with a Taser, leaving him without the ability to chew solid food for more than 10 days, according to the documents.
Monday’s filing is an updated account of what Mitchell’s mother, Margaret Mitchell, alleges her son experienced in jail. Margaret Mitchell initially brought the lawsuit against the jail and its guards last month.
“The only way for Tony’s body temperature to have ‘started dropping’ to 72 degrees in such a short period of time was for him to have been placed in a restraint chair in the jail kitchen’s walk-in freezer or similar frigid environment and left there for hours,” the first filing in February said.
Mitchell was being held at the Walker County Jail on an attempted murder charge, after brandishing a handgun and opening fire at deputies on January 12, according to the Walker County Sheriff’s Office.
The lawsuit said Mitchell was arrested while in a “psychotic and delusional state” partially caused by drug use. The incident began after one of Mitchell’s cousins became concerned about his welfare and called 911.
Source: the Insider