Ex-NFL star was beaten by police officers before sudden death in LA hospital, family claim

The family of a former NFL star have accused law enforcement officers of violently beating the 40-year-old Black man before his sudden death in police custody last month.

Stanley Wilson Jr collapsed and died on 1 February during a transfer from Twin Towers Correctional Facility to the Metropolitan State Hospital in Los Angeles County.

Wilson’s family said officials told them the 40-year-old –  a former cornerback for the Detroit Lions – collapsed and fell out of a chair during intake at the state-run psychiatric facility.

But, they say his death is “suspicious” and that they believe he may have actually died as a result of excessive force at the hands of law enforcement.

They filed a new lawsuit against Los Angeles County on Tuesday seeking $45m in damages for his wrongful death.

In the lawsuit, Wilson’s family accuse the county of “grossly misrepresenting the cause and circumstances” of his shock death.

The suit claims Wilson’s injuries indicate that “he did not merely ‘collapse’ at the Metropolitan State Hospital as has been widely and misleadingly reported”.

Instead, wounds on Wilson’s head suggest he was kicked or stomped on and markings on his wrists indicate he may have been cuffed at the time of his collapse, the suit claims.

Speaking at a press conference, the family’s attorney John Carpenter said photos of his body are in “stark contrast” to the account coming from officials.

“It appears from the way Stanley’s body was returned to his parents that he was in restraints at the time of his death,” he said.

“You can tell from the ligature marks on his wrist that was the case and 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.”

Wilson’s family are also yet to receive an autopsy report in the case, the attorney said.

Stanley Wilson Jr collapsed and died on 1 February (Getty Images)
Stanley Wilson Jr collapsed and died on 1 February (Getty Images)

Speaking at the press conference, Wilson’s family said that they just want answers about what happened to the onetime football star.

“We just want the truth. It hurts really bad to bury your child,” his father Stanley Wilson Sr – a fellow former NFL player – told reporters.

Wilson was a college football star at Stanford University before he was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2005.

He played for the team for three seasons until he suffered an Achilles tear that ended his career in 2007.

After his NFL career, his family said that he became less social, withdrawn and suffered mental health issues.

They also said he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) – a brain condition common among football players and believed to be caused by repeated impacts to the head.

These struggles led to several brushes with the law in recent years, they said.

Wilson had been held behind bars at the local jail since August 2022 when he was arrested for allegedly breaking into a $30m Hollywood Hills mansion for a second time.

He was charged with two felony counts of vandalism and one count of second-degree burglary.

However, he had been ruled not fit to stand trial on the charges.

This prompted the move to the state-run mental facility on 1 February – and his sudden, unexplained death.

The Independent has reached out to Los Angeles County for comment.