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Family of Alabama man who died in police custody speaks out: “We’re left with no answers

As the investigation into the death of Anthony “Tony” Mitchell continues, we are hearing from his family for the first time. Mitchell’s family is fighting for him, following his death in police custody. It’s been almost a month since video footage, depicting what his family said could be Mitchell’s final moments, emerged and sparked a federal investigation into his death. Despite the passing of time, his family is still holding on to hope.

Maranda Mitchell-Gutzmer, Tony’s sister, shared that it’s still hard to believe he’s gone. “We’re without a brother and we have no answers. We don’t know why. This all started out as an effort to keep him safe,” she said.

Mitchell-Gutzmer stated that her brother had struggled with addiction for years. After the death of their father last year, Mitchell spiraled. “One of the things before my father passed away was that, you know, he just wanted me to be there for Tony,” she said. “So, I tried to check in on him and it was hard because I wanted so badly for him to get help.”

It all began with a welfare check, but it ended with Mitchell being charged with attempted murder. The Walker County Sheriff’s Office posted a photo of Mitchell with his face spray-painted black, which drew harsh criticism from the community, leading to the sheriff’s office to edit the photo to exclude Mitchell’s face.

Mitchell died two weeks after his arrest. About a week after Mitchell’s death, Mitchell-Gutzmer received a Facebook message containing a video showing her brother being carried out of jail and put into a patrol vehicle.

On Feb. 13, Mitchell’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the WCSO, claiming Mitchell was likely placed in the jail kitchen’s walk-in freezer or “similar frigid environment” for hours. Last week, lawyers for the Walker County Sheriff’s Office responded to the lawsuit, denying that Mitchell was placed in a freezer.

“Once we got the truth of the medical records and saw the video, ‘alert and conscious’ is far from the truth,” Mitchell-Gutzmer said.

According to medical records, Mitchell arrived at Walker Baptist Medical Center “unresponsive, pulseless and cold to the touch.” Those documents also noted that his body had a core temperature of 72 degrees. The official autopsy report is still pending.

New videos recently made public capture moments of Mitchell’s incarceration. One video shows a corrections officer wrestling him to the ground and holding up what appeared to be a stun gun before dragging him out of an office.

“It’s astounding that all of this was happening while they’re knowingly being recorded as well,” she said. “That they weren’t worried…”

Quoted talk:

“We’re without a brother and we have no answers. We don’t know why. This all started out as an effort to keep him safe.”

“One of the things before my father passed away was that, you know, he just wanted me to be there for Tony. So, I tried to check in on him and it was hard because I wanted so badly for him to get help.”

“I just see this photo and I absolutely just, I cried so hard. It just didn’t seem fair to exploit someone in this horrific time.”

“How can someone in jail die of hypothermia and no one ever knew it was happening?”

“Well, the lie that he was alert and conscious did get around the world before we even got our boots on. We never saw the medical records when that was publicized.”

“It’s not their job to get to say who gets to live and who gets to die.”

“It’s astounding that all of this was happening while they’re knowingly being recorded as well. That

on this. We want justice for Tony.”

Mitchell’s case is still under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. The family is hoping that the release of more information, including the official autopsy report, will bring them closer to understanding what happened to their loved one.

“I just want to see it to the end,” Mitchell-Gutzmer said. “I want answers for Tony. I want to know what happened and I want justice for him.”

The family is also advocating for changes in the criminal justice system, including more accountability and transparency.

“We want to make sure that this doesn’t happen to someone else,” Mitchell-Gutzmer said. “We want to make sure that when someone is taken into custody, they’re treated like a human being and not just a number.”

In a statement, the Walker County Sheriff’s Office expressed sympathy for the Mitchell family but declined to comment further on the ongoing investigation.

“We are aware of the family’s concerns and want to assure them that we are cooperating fully with all law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation,” the statement read.

The death of Anthony Mitchell is a tragic reminder of the need for accountability and transparency in law enforcement. As the investigation continues, the family and community continue to demand answers and justice for their loved one.

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