The FBI is joining the probe into the death of a man who was allegedly left naked on a concrete jail floor for days until he was transported “limp” and “not alert and conscious” to an Alabama hospital.
Tony Mitchell was a pretrial detainee at the Walker County Jail from Jan. 12 until his death Jan. 26, according to a lawsuit filed by his mother Monday. An official cause of death has not been released, but notes from an emergency room doctor who treated him included in the lawsuit said he is likely to have died of hypothermia.
The Alabama Attorney General's Office released a statement Thursday confirming that it was aware of the case and that the FBI is investigating along with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
"Once the investigation is completed, the Attorney General will ensure that any appropriate action is taken," the statement said.
The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Mitchell's case.
The FBI's Birmingham field office recently investigated Alabama Department of Corrections Lt. Mohammad Shahid Jenkins, leading to a four-count indictment by a grand jury last month. The indictment is sealed, but Jenkins is accused of using excessive force on an inmate and obstructing the investigation.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges earlier this month.
Mitchell's case was detailed in the wrongful death suit filed by his mother against the county's sheriff's office and jail staff. The suit says that the family had received leaked footage of Mitchell's detainment that contradicted what they'd been told by county officials.
Mitchell was taken into custody after a family member asked officials to perform a wellness check Jan. 12, noting he might be a danger to himself or others, the Walker County Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook at the time.
Mitchell fired a gun while deputies were on the scene and was charged with attempted murder, the sheriff’s office said.
He remained a pretrial detainee from that day until the morning of Jan. 26, when he was taken to the hospital.
According to the lawsuit, Mitchell's family received video footage from a corrections officer in the jail that shows he'd been left naked on a cement floor in a bare cell for days. Within three days of his stay at the Walker County Jail, Mitchell had been shocked with a stun gun, which caused his false teeth to fall out of his mouth, the suit alleges, also citing video a corrections officer provided.
Mitchell's teeth were placed in a dated bag and it appeared that he never got them back, making it unlikely he was able to eat solid foods during his stay, the lawsuit said.
Screenshots of video given to Mitchell’s family are included in the lawsuit. An image from about 4 a.m. the day he died shows Mitchell naked on the floor and his cell door open. Corrections employees are outside the door and appear to be speaking to one another. It is unknown what was said.
Video from later that morning, which was provided to NBC News by the attorney representing Mitchell’s mother and the jail employee who leaked it, shows corrections officers carrying a clothed Mitchell to a sheriff’s office SUV.
It’s unclear whether Mitchell is conscious in the video as officers stand on either side and carry him into the vehicle.
The lawsuit says county officials told Mitchell’s family that staff members found his temperature began to drop during a routine exam that morning.
Mitchell’s body temperature when he arrived at the hospital was 72 degrees Fahrenheit, according to medical notes included in the suit. The average body temperature is 98.6, and hypothermia begins once the body falls below 95, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The emergency room doctor described being unaware of the underlying cause of Mitchell’s hypothermia but believed it “was the ultimate cause of his death,” the document says.
The lawsuit casts doubt on officials’ claims that Mitchell’s temperature began dropping only that morning. It notes that the family did not have access to video of Mitchell’s location overnight.