PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — An official at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail said the staff finished its investigation into the death of an inmate and found nothing criminal and no evidence of foul play involving inmates or staff. Police still have to do an external investigation, Lt. Col. Eugene Taylor said.
Jamycheal Mitchell was an inmate at Hampton Roads Regional Jail and was found dead in his cell Aug. 19. Mitchell, who was 24 years old and from Portsmouth, struggled with mental illness according to court documents and his family’s attorney. Now that family is looking for answers in his death.
Jail staff said it appears Mitchell died of natural causes, but said they are awaiting the autopsy for official word. The medical examiner’s report has not been released yet.
“It’s obvious that he did not receive the help that he needed,” said Mark Krudys of the Krudys Law Firm in Richmond Friday. “That’s the main issue.”
Court documents show Mitchell was arrested on April 22 for trespassing and stealing a Mountain Dew, a Snickers Bar, and a Zebra Cake from a 7-Eleven on George Washington Highway in Portsmouth. Mitchell’s mother and family members met with Krudys for the first time Friday. Krudys said Mitchell’s mother, Sonia Adams, is having trouble coming to grips with her son’s death and the circumstances surrounding his death.
A psychological evaluation done on Mitchell while he was in jail says the inmate admitted to having Bipolar disorder. A judge later said Mitchell was incompetent to stand trial and must be transferred to Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg. A general district court clerk explained to us there were no beds available.
Krudys said the family still has many questions about what happened leading up to Mitchell’s death. They feel some of the answers could come from records in the jail.
“The focus is going to be what exactly they knew and what they did, and what they didn’t do,” explained Krudys.
Krudys said it is his impression Mitchell was not taking his medicine while in jail, and therefore, not eating. According to family, Mitchell had gone through dramatic weight loss.
Krudys explained what he believes jail employees are required to do with inmates who are ill.
“Either deal with the situation adequately at the jail or refer the person out to the appropriate place,” said Krudys. “In my mind, that would have been an emergency room if there were not an adequate bed available.”
Jail staff said Monday that health officials there did not indicate Mitchell needed to go to an emergency room and that Mitchell was on a roster showing that he was receiving food. Those rosters do not indicate whether or not he was eating his food, according to the jail.
Krudys said he will now be requesting all relevant records from the jail which will include medical reports, hospital visits and records by jail guards.
WAVY News requested to sit down and talk to jail staff about this. They declined for now, but said they will talk about this at a later date.