DECATUR, Ga. — The mother of a man who tragically died, while in custody at the DeKalb County Jail, has filed a lawsuit against the sheriff's office and the county on Friday. The family's attorney asserts that the staff and healthcare workers at the jail "willfully and maliciously" ignored the man's mental health challenges, leading to his demise.
Toni Walker, the grieving mother, spoke about her decision to take legal action in hopes of preventing other families from enduring the pain she continues to carry. Outside the DeKalb County Courthouse, Walker shared fond memories of her son, Alexander, highlighting his caring and loving nature despite his diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Walker revealed that her son had been grappling with his mental health long after being diagnosed at the age of 17. Recounting a conversation they had, she expressed how he questioned why he was different. Walker assured him that his condition was not his fault, just as some people have blue eyes. Unfortunately, Alexander's struggle with mental illness persisted.
According to Walker, the 34-year-old was experiencing a mental health crisis when he was arrested on Dec. 18, 2022. A few days later, he was found dead. The cause of his death was determined to be hypothermia.
Devastated by the loss of her son, Walker sought answers and justice. Her attorney filed a lawsuit against the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office and several other defendants. The lawsuit alleges that Alexander was left naked in a cell, and when temperatures dropped to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), no action was taken by the staff to address his ongoing mental illness or alleviate his discomfort, ultimately leading to his death.
"He died just like he was born, naked. Nothing. Zero. Not even a pair of socks," Walker said.
Standing near the halls of justice, she vowed to fight for her son and others who have faced similar circumstances. Walker called for increased training courses, urging officials to learn from her son's tragic experience, adding, "This should never have happened."
11Alive News reached out to the defendants named in the lawsuit, including the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office. In response, a statement was received, indicating that the sheriff's office does not comment on pending litigation.
As the legal process unfolds, Toni Walker remains steadfast in her pursuit of justice for her son, Alexander, and to bring attention to the critical issues surrounding mental health and custodial care.