The family of Stanley Wilson Jr. is claiming that law enforcement beat him before he died. The former Detroit Lions cornerback died in February after reportedly collapsing during intake at a mental health facility in Los Angeles. However, Wilson Jr.’s family is disputing that.
At a news conference on Tuesday, John Carpenter, the attorney representing Wilson Jr.’s family, said the photos of his body show that he was a victim of excessive force before he died, and marks on his wrists indicate he was put in restraints.
“There were fresh wounds to his forehead, which appeared to be caused by a shoe, and so that’s in stark contrast to what we’ve been told from the county regarding the circumstances of his death,” he said at the news conference.
County officials told Wilson Jr.’s mother, Dr. D. Pulane Lucas, that he collapsed and fell from a chair. She said at the news conference she wanted to know if proper protocol was followed and if her son received any immediate help when he was in distress.
Official autopsy results have not been released yet.
The family’s attorney filed three claims against LA County on Tuesday: one on behalf of Wilson Jr.’s parents and another on behalf of his estate, asking for about $45 million in damages.
Wilson Jr. was taken into custody in August on vandalism charges, having been suspected of breaking into a home in Los Angeles’ Hollywood Hills and raiding the property. It’s believed the former NFL player took a bath in the property’s indoor fountain.
Carpenter said county officials declared Wilson Jr. incompetent to stand trial, which resulted in him being moved to a mental health care facility where he ultimately died. There was reportedly no suspicion of foul play at the time of his death.
Wilson Jr.’s father, Stanley Wilson Sr., described his son as meek, humble, fun, and loving. The family said he suddenly became less social, more withdrawn, anxious, and depressed. They said Wilson Jr. suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain condition common among football players believed to be linked to repeated head injuries and blows to the head.
Wilson Jr.’s mother said that “CTE and mental illness caused him to do some things that brought him a lot of shame.” She continued to say that regardless, he was optimistic about the future.
“He still believed that he could become a role model for those who were experiencing and who are experiencing similar situations,” she said at the news conference.
Wilson Jr. was taken in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Lions and played three seasons before suffering a career-ending Achilles tear in 2008 against New England in an exhibition game. He played 32 games, starting nine, recording one forced fumble, and 89 tackles – 64 of those solo.
Wilson was a college star at Stanford prior to being drafted by the Lions and enrolled at the prestigious Northern California school in 2000. He played for the Cardinal football team between 2001-2004.
Stanley Wilson Jr. was the son of ex-Cincinnati Bengals running back Stanley Wilson Sr., who played for the Ohio franchise intermittently in 1983-84, 1986, and 1988.