Medical expert claims inconsistencies in coroner’s report for 2021 death at Guntersville Jail
GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Travis Banks passed away in police custody in Guntersville almost two years ago. Attorneys Johnathan Austin and Richard Rice represent the family of Travis Banks as they fight for answers as to what happened to their loved one.
“Why did that happen?” Austin questions. “What happened to him? Why won’t you tell us or give us the video if you did nothing wrong?”
Since July 2021, his family has been begging officials to tell them what happened to their beloved father, son, and brother. All the family knows is that Guntersville Police arrested him shortly after he called 911. Then, 48 hours later he died in the Guntersville Jail.
His family claims he called 911 for help, but instead of helping him, police arrested him. They say police knew he had mental health issues before his arrest.
The family named three Guntersville officers in their federal lawsuit. They claim James Compton, Matthew Plyant and Joshua Hatley, used excessive force, didn’t provide medical care and are responsible for Banks’ wrongful death.
They say he showed clear signs his health was getting worse, but the three officers failed to check his mental or physical health status.
Austin says it’s unreasonable to think any family would back down in a case like this.
”You would want to know what happened to your loved one too,” Austin said. “You would want to know. No reasonable person would say ok we’re just going to accept an apology, even though our clients haven’t received that, but we’re just gonna say, ‘no worries, no harm, no foul,’ no one is going to go along with that.”
The attorneys had to fight to see the coroner’s report.
The family and attorneys had Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner Vivian Hannon analyze the autopsy. She said that she found discrepancies between her analysis and the sequence of events provided by officers.
According to the report, police restrained Banks to a chair off and on because he was having an episode and eating paint off the walls. Then, he went into cardiac arrest and didn’t have a pulse for a few minutes by the time EMTs arrived.
However, Hannon claims that’s not what the autopsy shows. The Nurse Practitioner said that Banks was found naked and was in restraints for possibly four hours. Her report also states that there the evidence does not show that he was eating paint. He was found with paint chips covering his body but they weren’t found in his stomach or mouth.
She goes on to report that a lethal amount of methamphetamine was found in his system. It had to be taken just two to four hours before he passed.
Lastly, she analyzed the blood test and says it shows Banks had no pulse for more than a few minutes before EMTs arrived.
Latavia Banks, sister of Travis, said she just wants to know what happened to her big brother.
“You know we’ve sent in lawsuits, we’ve subpoenaed the information, we’re just at their mercy,” Latavia said. “I’ve never felt so lost and defeated and just helpless.”
According to attorneys, the statute of limitations is up in July.
Officials with the City of Guntersville said they can’t comment on ongoing litigation.
Guntersville Police Chief Jon Peterson hasn’t responded to requests for comment or Freedom of Information requests since late 2021.
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