Melvin Stubbs, a wheelchair-bound African-American man with one leg, died in police custody in California on March 6 for a murder he did not commit.
The 65-year-old diabetic man was taken into custody by police in Pleasanton, California, on March 5 for allegedly killing his wife, Terry Cameron, who had died from bacterial meningitis.
"It's impossible, totally impossible," Melvin's ex-wife Margo Stubbs told the San Jose Mercury News. "How could they possibly think that someone in his condition could do that?"
Cameron’s family tried to visit the couple's apartment on March 5, but there was no answer at the door.
According to Oakland police Lt. Roland Holmgren, the family asked the landlord to check on the couple, and the landlord found Melvin and Cameron lying next to each other. Cameron was dead, Melvin was unresponsive, notes the Los Angeles Times.
Johnna Watson, a spokeswoman for the Oakland Police Department, said that police were called to the apartment and "observed the interior of the residence was in disarray as if a physical struggle had occurred."
Watson said that Cameron's body had signs of trauma, and Melvin had scratches on his arms and hands.
Holmgren stated that Cameron was found with a pillow over her face and her swollen body had “defensive wounds.”
“The evidence was there … there was was more than enough reasonable suspicion,” Holmgren added. “My intention is not to limit feelings in this thing. This is an incident that two families are suffering from. I think we have a civil responsibility to get the facts out.”
Melvin was taken by police to a hospital where he stayed overnight. He was transported to the Santa Rita jail on March 6, but medical workers at the jail refused him because his blood sugar was too high. Police took Melvin back to the hospital, and then back to jail.
According to Alameda County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly, Melvin was locked in a special medical unit at the jail where employees found him unresponsive later in the afternoon, and took him to a hospital in Pleasanton, California, where the senior died about two hours later.
Margo did not know that Melvin had died until she showed up at court for his hearing on March 7.
That was the same day the Alameda County Coroner's Bureau ruled that Cameron had died from bacterial meningitis.
"He was an amputee, and he couldn't even walk," Manuel Primas, Melvin's brother-in-law, told the San Jose Mercury Times. "I guess you could say he was an invalid. I can't believe that you can just grab a man in a wheelchair and arrest him without evidence."
“What they did to him was horrible,” Primas told the Los Angeles Times. “His last thought must’ve been, ‘My wife just died and I’m in here for murder.’ And then he died. That’s a hell of a way to go.”
“Maybe it’s not murder, but they killed him,” Primas added. “How you going to drag a man out of a house, find her dead, and blame him for it? If a man kills his wife, that means he’s going to try to leave.”
“Everybody is trying to blame everybody else."
According to Primas, the family is looking for a lawyer.