WALKER COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Attorneys for the top law enforcement official in Walker County are asking a judge to remove him from a lawsuit from the family of an inmate who died in police custody in January.
On Monday, the legal team for Walker County Sheriff Nick Smith filed a motion to dismiss him from a lawsuit involving the death of Anthony “Tony” Mitchell, whose family claims he was abused while in custody at the county jail, that he was denied medical and mental health treatment for weeks and that, at one point, he was kept in a cold environment for hours before he died at a nearby hospital.
In addition to Smith, Mitchell’s family is also suing Walker County Jail Administrator Justin White, as well as corrections officers Arthur “TJ” Armstrong, Denzel Mitchell, Arcelia Jottie Tidwell, Braxton Kee, Bailey Ganey, Katherine Clingan, Jacob Smith, Jeremy Farley, Richard Holtzman, Benjamin Shoemaker, Morgan Madison, Dayton Wakefield, Joshua Jones, QCHC, Inc. The Mitchells are also suing nurse practitioner Aleisha Herron, nurse Brad Allred and investigator Carl Carpenter.
“It is well-established that Sheriff Smith is a State Constitutional Officer,” attorney Jamie Helen Kidd Frawley wrote in the motion. “He is accordingly entitled to absolute immunity from all claims for damages brought against him in his official capacity pursuant to the Eleventh Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
Frawley went on to say that in his official capacity, Smith is not a “person” subject for lawsuit.
Smith has been sheriff of Walker County since 2019.
If you are experiencing mental health-related distress or are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support, call the the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.