PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Family members and supporters of Jamycheal Mitchell gathered outside the Hampton Roads Regional Jail on Friday, exactly one year after he was found unresponsive in his cell there.
“The pain never leaves, it always hurts,” said Sonia Adams, Jamycheal’s mother.
Family members placed a handmade cross, flowers and teddy bears directly across from the jail.
“We want them to see it, so that they can know what kind of pain they have caused,” said Jasmine Adams, his sister. “We want them to see it, we want them to feel it. We want them to understand.”
Jamycheal, a 24-year-old with mental health issues, had been behind bars for four months, accused of stealing snacks from a convenience store. In jail, he was reportedly waiting to be transferred to a mental health facility.
The group shared their feelings, prayed, and wrote messages to Jamycheal on the cross.
“We’re not doing good,” Jasmine said. “It’s been a year, and it feels like it happened yesterday.”
The question as to who, if anyone, is responsible for the death, still lingers.
State police are now the latest agency conducting an investigation.
The family is filing a multi-million dollar wrongful death suit. Their attorney, Mark Krudys, was at the vigil.
10 On Your Side asked him about a recent Associated Press report that claimed an AP reporter was able to view video taken outside of Jamycheal’s cell as he was discovered unresponsive.
The video hadn’t been released before, despite requests from the family, 10 On Your Side, and the NAACP.
“It’s a tremendous indignity to this family, that the first person that’s viewing this tape is the Associated Press, rather than the family,” Krudys said.
Portsmouth NAACP President James Boyd was also at the vigil. He told Jamycheal’s family that the organization is exploring ways to launch “Jamycheal’s Law,” aimed at improving the way people with mental health problems are treated within the criminal justice system.
According to Jamycheal’s family, what is most important is that the young man’s death is not in vain.
“It opens a lot of doors for everyone that has mental problems,” his mother said. “I hate the idea that it happened to my son, but his name is well spoken and everybody, oh he’s opened doors for everybody.”