Family of man who died in Guntersville jail still seeking answers as statute of limitations draws near

WAFF 48's Megan Plotka reporting
Published: Jul. 31, 2023 at 11:56 AM CDT

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Monday marked the two-year anniversary of the death of Travis Banks in the Guntersville Jail. The statute of limitations for filing a complaint on his behalf is also close to expiring, putting the case in a critical phase.

Banks’ family still does not have answers after he died in the Guntersville Jail after he was arrested on July 29, 2021. His family says he was the one that placed the 911 call that led to his arrest.

Two years later, the family still does not know why he was arrested and they never saw an arrest report. As they dug deeper, they say they found more questions than answers.

The family’s attorneys, Johnathon Austin and Richard Rice, first filed a lawsuit in early 2022 followed by several motions for discovery, asking for pieces of evidence, like video footage of the final hours of Banks’ life. The attorneys say they began to press harder after a medical expert found inconsistencies between the autopsy and the officers’ testimonies.

Austin says his motions for discovery have been repeatedly denied. He says the court cited “qualified immunity,” asserting that the officer’s actions did not violate any clearly established constitutional rights.

“If the City of Guntersville is so confident that the conduct of their officers was legal and it didn’t violate Mr. Banks’ constitutional rights and they do believe in the fact that they do get to enjoy qualified immunity then just show us the video,” said Austin.

City of Guntersville representatives say they do not comment on pending litigation. WAFF 48 News filed a Freedom of Information Act request in 2022 but did not receive a response.

The Banks family and their attorneys have been relentlessly pursuing justice, filing their first complaint in early 2022, only to face rejection and be asked to file a new one. The statute of limitations for filing complaints expired on July 31 and the family is waiting on a ruling from a judge.

“If the court rejects our arguments and denies our complaints this time, then we will forever be barred from filing another complaint because the statute of limitation has run,” says Austin. He says he will appeal if necessary.

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