GRAPHIC: Man froze to death after being locked in jail’s kitchen freezer as punishment, lawsuit says
WARNING: The video in this story may be disturbing to some viewers.
WALKER COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC/Gray News) – A man froze to death while in police custody after he was locked in an Alabama jail’s kitchen freezer as punishment, a new federal lawsuit alleges.
The mother of Anthony Don Mitchell, 33, filed the lawsuit, alleging abuse and neglect leading to her son’s death.
According to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Walker County Sheriff’s Office requested an ALEA investigation of Mitchell’s in-custody death that occurred at Walker Baptist Hospital on Jan. 26.
The sheriff’s office said in a statement that Mitchell was taken to the hospital that day for evaluation and “became unresponsive at the hospital, where he was pronounced deceased.”
However, leaked security camera footage from the jail shows a different story, and protesters are demanding answers.
The disturbing security camera footage shows authorities carrying Mitchell’s near-lifeless body, which appears frozen, out of the jail and into a vehicle to be taken to the hospital.
The lawsuit alleges that Mitchell’s transportation to the hospital came after “hours of neglect,” including being locked inside the jail’s kitchen’s walk-in freezer as punishment.
Austin Banks, a former classmate of Mitchell’s, was among the protestors demanding answers from the sheriff’s office.
“Just the way it happened too, it was almost barbaric,” Banks said. “How does America, in 2023, how does a prisoner… die of hypothermia?”
The sheriff’s office said the investigation is ongoing and an autopsy will be conducted by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for an official cause of death.
Once the investigation is complete, the findings will be turned over to the Walker County District Attorney’s Office.
Mitchell had been in custody at the Walker County Jail since his arrest on Jan. 12.
According to the sheriff’s office, the chain of events started when deputies received a call from a concerned family member of Mitchell that day, saying he had made statements that he may harm himself or others.
Deputies responded to the scene for a welfare check, where they found Mitchell in the front yard of the home. According to the WSCO, Mitchell immediately brandished a handgun and fired at least one shot at deputies before running into a wooded area behind the home.
Multiple agencies responded to the “shots fired” call, and officials worked to secure the area.
Eventually, after a long search, authorities were able to take Mitchell into custody. He was booked into the Walker County Hail on charges of attempted murder.
The sheriff’s office said during the investigation, deputies also recovered methamphetamine, heroin and a handgun from the home.
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