Ex-NFL star’s family file second lawsuit after he died while restrained in LA jail

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The family of a former NFL star corner back who died in police custody have filed a second lawsuit against Los Angeles County alleging that authorities refused to conduct a proper investigation into his death.

Stanley Wilson Jr, 40, died from a pulmonary embolism while being transferred from Twin Towers Correctional Facility to the Metropolitan State Hospital in Los Angeles County on 1 February.

His family claimed in the latest filing that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) and the County of Los Angeles had “refused to report the facts and circumstances” of the former Detroit Lions player’s death in custody, as is required by law.

They argue that the state-run psychiatric hospital failed to carry out an initial death report or mortality review.

Officials have told Wilson’s family that he suffered fatal injuries after falling out of a chair during intake at the psychiatric facility.

Wilson’s family also say that their requests to view video footage of his final moments have been declined by the county and sheriff’s office.

An earlier lawsuit filed in March alleged his death was suspicious, and that law enforcement may have used excessive force.

The court filing pointed to wounds on Wilson’s head that suggested he was kicked or stomped on and markings on his wrists indicating he was in handcuffs at the time of his collapse.

Former NFL star Stanley Wilson Jr died in police custody in February

(Getty Images)

The family are seeking at least $45m from LA County for wrongful death and “grossly misrepresenting the cause and circumstances” of his injuries.

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In an op-ed published in The Appeal last week, Wilson’s mother Dr Pulane Lucas wrote that her son had been a star football player at the Stanford University before going on to play three seasons for the Lions.

“After retiring from the NFL, Stanley struggled with mental illness and substance dependence, which ultimately led him on a path he was not destined for,” Dr Lucas wrote.

After he died, a post-mortem showed he had suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a debilitating  brain disorder caused by repeated head injuries.

She said the LASD has refused to answer “even basic questions and ignored repeated requests to release CCTV footage capturing his final moments”.

“By not counting Stanley’s death, LASD is not only erasing his death and the circumstances around it from public record,” Dr Lucas wrote.

“They are also making it harder to protect other incarcerated people from suffering similar deaths—whatever the cause may be.”

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told The Independent Wilson was in the custody of the Metropolitan State Hospital when he “suffered a medical emergency and tragically passed away”.

The California Department of State Hospitals did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At a press conference in March, the family’s lawyer John Carpenter said Wilson had ligature marks on his wrists and fresh injuries to his forehead that appeared to come from a shoe.

“And so that’s in stark contrast to what we’ve been told from the county regarding the circumstances of his death,” Mr Carpenter said.

His father Stanley Wilson Sr, who also played in the NFL, said in March that the family “just want the truth”.

Wilson was picked 72nd overall in the 2005 draft and played 32 games for the Detroit Lions from 2005 to 2007 before an Achilles injury ended his career.

He became socially withdrawn after his playing career ended, and had numerous brushes with the law.

Wilson had been in custody for the last few months of his life after being arrested in August 2022 for attempting to break in to a Hollywood Hills mansion, and was declared unfit to go on trial.

The NFL has paid out more than $1bn to settle lawsuits with former NFL players who suffered from concussion during their playing careers.

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