Anthony “Tony” Don Mitchell was 33 years old and had a history of drug abuse, which seems to be fairly common factor when you look at the unsolved missing, murdered and suspicious death cases in Walker County. Tony lived at home with his father on Lost Creek Road in Carbon Hill until his father passed away in late 2022. After his father’s death, Tony continued to live in his father’s home alone, but it appears his physical and mental health began to rapidly decline and his drug addiction began to worsen.
Tony arrived at his cousin Steve’s home, the first time Steve had seen Tony since his father’s funeral three months prior. Steve noted that Tony appeared haggard and emaciated, weighing no more than 140-150 pounds, a far cry from his normal approx 240 pounds.
Tony began telling Steve a story about his baby brother who was still born being kept in a box in the attic at his home and that there were portals to heaven and hell in his home. Realizing that Tony was experiencing extreme delusions and in serious need of psychiatric help, Steve agreed to go to Tony’s home so that he didn’t lose sight of him.
Upon arrival, Tony’s delusions persisted, so Steve and Jacob left with a promise to return and help Tony find the portal.
Understanding Tony needed help and not knowing where else to turn, Steve attempted to call WCSO but no one answered. He then called 911 and explained that Tony seemed to be having a mental breakdown with delusions.
The caller stated that Anthony “Tony” Mitchell had made statements to them that raised concern, insinuating that Mitchell may harm himself or others. Deputies from our Patrol Division responded to the scene to perform a welfare check on the individual.
When Deputies arrived, they observed Mitchell in the front yard of the residence. Mitchell immediately brandished a handgun, and fired at least one shot at Deputies before retreating into a wooded area behind his home. A call of “shots fired” was announced, and all available assistance was en route…
… As the SWAT Unit converged onto the structure in the woods, they deployed a distraction device to divert the attention of Mitchell in case he would be in the building. They then spotted Mitchell in the building, and were able to take him into custody while he was disoriented. He was immediately checked out by Regional Paramedical Services, who had staged at the scene with law enforcement.
Anthony Mitchell, 33, of Carbon Hill, was booked into the Walker County Jail on charges of Attempted Murder. During the investigation, deputies also recovered Methamphetamine, heroin, and a handgun from the location.
After Tony’s arrest, WCSO Public Information Officer TJ Armstrong told Steve that Tony was alive, albeit a little “roughed up.” Armstrong further stated Tony’s bail would be set high enough he would not be able to bond out and assured Steve Tony would receive a medical evaluation and treatment while in jail, stating “we’re going to detox him and then we’ll see how much of his brain is left.”
Tony was booked into Walker County jail and housed as a pretrial detainee. Upon intake, his clothes were taken and he was placed inside a cement isolation cell with nothing but a drain in the floor to be used as a toilet, no uniform, bed or other furnishings were provided. Based on video surveillance, Tony appeared to have been left completely naked for the duration of his incarceration.
Due to drug use, primarily methamphetamine, Tony had lost is teeth and used false teeth to eat. On or around 1/15, video surveillance shows Tony, still nude, being drug out of Holding Cell No. 5 and tazed by Officer Braxton Kee, which caused Tony’s false teeth to fall out. WCSO staff can be seen watching, including Capt. Alicia Tidwell.
The tazing caused Tony’s false teeth to fall out, at which point WCSO recovered them and placed them in a sealed property bag dated 1/15/23, as evidenced by a photo in the complaint. Given the date on the bag, this would indicate Tony had not been able to adequately chew solid food he’d been provided, if any, during his incarceration at Walker County jail.
1/25/23, 6:00 AM
Corrections Officer Karen Kelly ended her shift. At that time Tony was awake and talkative in the isolation cell and not in any evident distress.
It appears Tony was strapped into a restraint chair during the night of January 25 to January 26 and placed in the jail kitchen’s walk-in freezer or similar frigid environment for an extended period of time…
1/26/23, 4:00 AM
Corrections Officers Braxton Kee and Jacob Smith found Tony “unresponsive” at feeding time and returned Tony – still naked – to the bare isolation cell in the booking area.
Later, Supervisor Denzel Mitchell is seen standing by the open cell door, and Alicia Herron, the jail nurse practitioner, is seen entering the cell for a few moments but does not appear to render any type of medical treatment or call for an ambulance
1/26/23, 6:00 AM
Deputy Shoemaker is seen on surveillance opening the door to Tony’s cell and looking inside. A short time later, Shoemaker and Morgan Madison are seen entering the cell with a sleeping mat for the first time since he entered the facility two weeks prior.
Nurse Brad Allred is seen standing at the cell door observing Tony but provides no medical treatment. Shoemaker and Madison began sweeping and mopping around Tony in the cell.
1/26/23, est 7:45 AM
Madison is seen entering the cell carrying an orange jail uniform.
Throughout the morning multiple officers and medical personnel are seen in and around the cell observing Tony, but none render aid or call for an ambulance.
1/26/23, 8:30 AM
Shoemaker is seen entering the cell with a wheelchair and, with the help of either Forley or Holzman, brings Tony out of the cell.
Tony is seen in an orange jail uniform, marking the first time in two weeks Tony had been dressed.
Tony’s body fell out of the wheelchair outside of the cell, requiring deputies to put him back in it. While his body appears to make slow, spasmodic movements, Tony’s feet are shackled.
Deputies are then seen picking Tony up and dragging him back into his cell when a new female detainee is brought into the booking area for processing.
1/26/23, 8:55 AM
When deputies finally get around to transporting Tony to the WCSO SUV, no further attempts are made to use the wheelchair, apparently.
Video surveillance shows Jail Transport Officers Jeremy Farley and Richard Holzman carrying Tony’s limp body into the garage area of the jail while Benjamin Shoemaker and Dayton Wakefield assisted by opening and closing doors. Tony has no handcuffs, but does have shackles on his ankles.
Farley and Holzman placed Tony on the cement ground briefly before opening the rear passenger door of a WCSO SUV and put Tony in the back. Tony does not appear to be moving at any point during the video and his legs remain in the same bent position for the duration of the video.
1/26/23, 9:23 AM
Deputies arrived at the hospital with Tony. They do not inform staff he’d been placed in a freezer or that he was hypothermic.
I have limited information on this patient other than what was provided by sheriff deputies that accompanied the patient to the hospital.
I was told by one of the deputies that the patient has been incarcerated since January 12th. I was also told by the deputies that the patient has not been eating or drinking for several days…
… At that point he was noted to have agonal respirations breathing 2-4 times a minute. He was rushed into the ER and moved to our stretcher. He was unresponsive apneic and pulseless and cold to the touch. CPR was started and handcuffs were removed…
Dr. Timothy Jordan ER Note
Another note indicated Tony’s initial rectal temperature was 72º F/22º C.
Tony was “unresponsive but occasionally made some agonal movements, including swallowing and minor movements of an arm or leg,” “no spontaneous pulse was ever palpated,”
TJ Armstrong called Steve from the hospital and told him they’d had a “time with Tony” for the last week and a half and that Tony had refused to eat, speak with jail personnel, and refused to consent to a psych eval. He claimed it was the “worst case of addiction” they’d ever seen.
He further informed Steve that Tony’s body temperature had began dropping that morning and they’d had to take him to the hospital. He asked Steve to bring Tony’s mother to the hospital because “Tony’s not going to live.”
Armstrong claimed Tony had a heart attack when he sat up at the request of one of the Walker Baptist doctors.
1/26/23, 1:15 PM
Tony declared dead at Walker Baptist Medical Center
1/29/23 or 1/30/23
Karen Kelly reviews surveillance footage of the day Tony was taken to the hospital and records it with her cellphone.
1/30/23, 5:57 PM
CBS 42 publishes article related to the death of Tony Mitchell at Walker Baptist Hospital while in the custody of WCSO. TJ Armstrong issued the following statement in response:
“On Thursday, January 27th, an inmate in the Walker County Jail was provided a routine medical check by jail medical staff. Medical staff determined the inmate needed to be transported to the hospital for further evaluation,” the statement said.
“The inmate was alert and conscious when he left the facility and arrived at the hospital. Shortly after arrival at the hospital, the inmate suffered a medical emergency and became unresponsive. Life saving efforts were performed by hospital staff and the inmate was ultimately revived. Unfortunately, a short time later, the inmate passed away.”
The false statement provided by Armstrong to CBS 42 added to the extreme emotional distress Kelly was already feeling after having seeing the surveillance footage.
Knowing there was the potential for retaliation by WCSO but concerned the video would be deleted or recorded over, she shared the video with another corrections officer at a different law enforcement agency. The video also began to circulate on social media and among the local community.
2/7/23, 9:45 PM
Investigator Carl Carpenter and TJ Armstrong requested to speak with Kelly while she was on shift. They met with her in Sheriff Nick Smith’s office to discuss an in-house investigation related to a video that had been leaked to the public.
Kelly was shown the video and admitted to recording it. Carpenter took her phone and gave it to Investigator Bryan Parkhurst to review further.
2/8/23, 12:00 AM
Carpenter returned Kelly’s phone.
Kelly returned a missed call from Capt. Arcelia Jottie Tidwell. Tidwell said she’d spoken to the jail administrator, Justin White, and been advised that Kelly was to be sent home until the in-house investigation was complete.
CBS 42 publishes second article referencing the video and contradictory statement previously made by WCSO.
Deputy Jaen Lavilette from WCSO hand delivers a back-dated termination letter to Kelly.
We are aware of the allegations. The matter is being investigated by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Once the investigation is completed, the Attorney General will ensure that any appropriate action is taken.-Alabama Attorney General