A federal lawsuit alleges that the family of a deceased Alabama prisoner had to opt for a closed-casket funeral due to the return of the body in a “severely decomposed” state, missing its heart. Despite persistent efforts over five days to secure the release of Brandon Dotson’s remains from the Alabama Department of Corrections, the family was informed of “bruising on the back of his neck and excessive swelling across his head,” as indicated in the lawsuit, as reported by Fox News.
The legal claim further asserts that, upon engaging a pathologist for an independent autopsy, it was discovered that the man’s heart had been extracted from his chest cavity.
The family is unaware of the whereabouts of the organ or the person responsible for its disappearance. Furthermore, they remain uncertain about the exact cause of Dotson’s death.
“[The Alabama Department of Corrections] performed an autopsy on [Dotson] and removed the heart, thereby concealing the true cause of death,” the lawsuit claims. “By taking this action, Defendants intentionally or recklessly destroyed or altered key evidence that deprived Plaintiff of the ability to determine how the deceased died through an independent autopsy.”
The family is seeking Dotson’s heart for examination by an independent pathologist.
“We are uncertain about his current state of mind and what he truly desires. It is the responsibility of the state to ensure the safety of inmates within its prisons,” the family’s attorney expressed to Law & Crime. “The ADOC has failed to fulfill this duty for Brandon, just as they have for numerous other individuals this year.”
Dotson was sentenced to 99 years in prison for burglary. He had been incarcerated at Ventress Correctional Facility for 19 years before his death.
The lawsuit claims that the alleged misconduct of prison staff members was equivalent to a death sentence.
According to the document, Dotson had informed prison staff about the threats of violence he was facing from another inmate. The lawsuit claims that Dotson may have been exposed to even more danger when he was moved from the prison’s segregated housing unit to the general population.