In their federal lawsuit filed last week, the family claimed they worked actively to retrieve the body of the man named Brandon Clay Dotson, who was found dead in his cell at the Ventress Correctional Facility on Nov. 16 after he sought help from prison officials. Dotson claimed other inmates were trying to harm him over failed drug debts.
The body was released to the family on Nov. 21 and was allegedly in terrible shape as it had already begun to decompose.
"At this point the body had not been properly stored and was severely decomposed. Despite the family's initial wishes, they had no choice but to hold a closed casket funeral service," the lawsuit read.
The lawsuit also stated that the family "suspected foul play, in part because of the Alabama Department of Corrections' extensive and ongoing violations of basic human and constitutional rights,"
The family ended up hiring pathologist Dr. Boris Datnow to conduct a second autopsy, and he found the body was missing a heart.
"The Alabama Department of Corrections – or an agent responsible for conducting the autopsy or transporting the body to his family – had, inexplicably and without the required permission from Mr. Dotson's next of kin, removed and retained Mr. Dotson's heart," the lawsuit goes on to allege.
In addition to the missing heart, Dotson's family claimed the prison didn't do its job in protecting him from harm and neglected him. The lawsuit will be going to trial next fall.
"No member in the correctional staff was available to prevent the abuse Mr. Dotson endured and the constant and unlimited access to drugs that he had, or to rescue Mr. Dotson timely to save his life, or if they were available, they ignored the warning signs and direct pleas for help when they had every opportunity to intervene and prevent the death of Mr. Dotson," the lawsuit concludes.