JASPER, Ala. (WIAT) — Lawyers for medical staff named in the wrongful death lawsuit of Anthony “Tony” Mitchell are responding to claims his medical needs were ignored. Mitchell’s family is suing the Walker County sheriff, several jail employees and medical staff personnel.
According to lawyers, medical personnel named in the lawsuit tried to get an ambulance three times the morning Mitchell died, but their lawyer said those requests went unanswered by jail personnel.
“We can’t psychically call the ambulance, the county does that and that’s standard in all jails,” LaBella McCallum said.
McCallum is representing nurse practitioner Alicia Herron, nurse Brad Allred and Quality Corrections Health Care, the medical company contracted out by the Walker County Jail. All are named in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Anthony “Tony” Mitchell.
McCallum said her clients tried to get Mitchell help three times but those requests went unanswered.
“Both of the latter two nurses were told an ambulance has been called and is on its way,” McCallum said.
Last week, the family filed an amended lawsuit claiming Mitchell was denied access to medical and mental health treatment for the two weeks he was in the jail. McCallum said typically detainees get a full medical assessment but she said the county wouldn’t allow it for safety reasons.
“He was not allowed to be brought to us for those assessments by the county because of security and his combativeness. We never were able to get him to medical to do a full assessment or allowed into his cell,” McCallum said.
The amended lawsuit also claimed Mitchell was denied water for over 70 hours.
According to McCallum, around 4 a.m. on Jan. 26, medical staff was called because corrections officers were having trouble getting him to respond. McCallum said this was the first time any medical staff was able to enter Mitchell’s cell and physically examine Mitchell.
“She was able to go in with the county officials and get vitals and touch him and do more of a real assessment and that’s when she came to the conclusion that he was dehydrated,” McCallum said.
The amended suit also claimed jail staff intentionally blew cold air into Mitchell’s cell.
“I have never heard that that was called the ‘freezer’ or that the county deliberately controlled the temperature,” McCallum said.
Medical records note he had a rectal temperature of 72 degrees when he arrived at the hospital. An official autopsy report is still pending.
“We don’t know if the temperature that the emergency room doctor reported was an accurate temperature. I do know that a 72 body temperature is extremely low,” McCallum said.
McCallum said the investigation is still ongoing and that her clients are fully cooperating.
We reached out to the lawyers representing the sheriff’s office for comment. They said when they file their response to the amended lawsuit in about a week or so it “should cover your questions.”