Lithonia man died from hypothermia in DeKalb’s jail

Anthony Lamar Walker’s mother, who is suing the sheriff and others: ‘I want them to be held accountable’
Toni Walker, left, said her son, Anthony Lamar Walker, right. SPECIAL TO AJC

Credit: Special

Credit: Special

Toni Walker, left, said her son, Anthony Lamar Walker, right. SPECIAL TO AJC

The mother of a mentally ill Lithonia man who died from hypothermia in the DeKalb County Jail last year is suing Sheriff Melody Maddox and others, accusing them of negligence and constitutional rights violations.

Filed Monday in DeKalb State Court, the 22-page lawsuit does not quantify the damages being sought for Anthony Lamar Walker’s death.

Walker, 34, died on Dec. 26 from hypothermia, according to a DeKalb County Medical Examiner autopsy report, which also says Walker was found naked in his cell and was wet because of flooding caused by his clothes being stuffed in his toilet. The outside temperature on the day of Walker’s death dipped below freezing.

Walker was being held on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm as a felon. He was convicted of a felony in 2007 for making a terroristic threat, court records show.

His mother, Toni Walker, said his charges stem from his mental health crises, adding that he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

“Despite Lamar’s fragile mental health condition and his calls for help from the inhumane environment in which he was kept,” her lawsuit says, “none of the defendants took any action to protect him from the cold, to treat his ongoing mental distress, or to prevent his discomfort and death. In fact, the defendants did just the opposite — they willfully and maliciously ignored him.”

Nine people who were held in the DeKalb County Jail died last year, the lockup’s highest yearly total since 2009, according to records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Walker was among two of the jail’s detainees who died within 24 hours of each other in December.

Walker’s lawsuit also names two companies it says provided health care for DeKalb jail detainees, Wellpath and Centurion Health. Neither company immediately responded to requests for comment Thursday.

Maddox’s office declined to comment about the lawsuit. But her spokeswoman said this week that her office is working on a contract with a different inmate health care provider, Armor Health.

Walker grew up in Decatur and attended Lithonia High School before earning his GED diploma, according to his mother. She said he was intelligent and loving and enjoyed reading and playing Sudoku, basketball and football.

“It is so unbelievable to me. It takes everything within me to even get up,” she said about her grief over her son’s death. “This is something that should not have happened. I want them to be held accountable.”