ST. LOUIS — A paraplegic inmate in the St. Louis City Justice Center has been denied a shower for five months, a federal lawsuit says, and has only been provided a basin and a rag for washing.
The suit says that since Oct. 5, Anthony Tillman, 39, has been confined to the second-floor infirmary alongside inmates in COVID-19 quarantine. The downtown jail has no showers for people in wheelchairs and his complaints have gone nowhere, according to the suit, which was filed Tuesday.
It argues that jail officials are violating the federal Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide Tillman with access to a shower that accommodates his disability.
In a call to a “jail hotline” run by the legal advocacy group ArchCity Defenders, which is one of the law groups that sued, Tillman says he was told by medical staff that they won’t help him bathe because the jail is not a “long-term care facility.”
“It’s just, it’s not right — inhumane to let somebody in a wheelchair to suffer like this,” Tillman said on the call.
Tillman has a bullet lodged in his back from a 2017 shooting, the suit says. When jailed in February 2020, he fell in the shower, cutting himself and developing a blood infection that led to hospitalization and complications that still plague him.
The suit was filed by ArchCity, St. Louis University School of Law legal clinics, the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center and the Rights Behind Bars organization. It names the city; Adrian Barnes, superintendent of the City Justice Center; and Dale Glass, commissioner of the St. Louis Division of Corrections.
A mayoral spokesman did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Tillman’s lawyers are seeking an emergency hearing in front of a judge Thursday.
Court records for Tillman’s criminal case show he was originally released on his own recognizance, but was arrested after allegedly violating his bond conditions. He is facing gun charges as well as charges of domestic assault and endangering the welfare of a child. Charging documents accuse him of firing from a vehicle at another containing a child on Feb. 29, 2020.
A task force created after jail inmate complaints and disturbances is expected to issue a report this week.