Jail officials investigate inmate’s death in cell; NAACP releases statement

Jakim Funderburk (Photo: Chesapeake Police Department)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (AP) — Jail officials in Portsmouth are investigating the death of inmate who was found unresponsive in his cell.

The Hampton Roads Regional Jail says inmate Jakim Funderburk was found in his cell with a bed sheet tied around his neck hanging from the top bunk.

Guards doing a security check found Funderburk at 12:30 a.m. Sunday and administered CPR until paramedics arrived. He was pronounced dead an hour later.

Portsmouth police are investigating, along with jail officials.

Funderburk had been in jail since December on charges including abduction, malicious assault and armed burglary. He was also connected to a shooting in Chesapeake from April of 2016. 

The Justice Department announced in December that it is investigating the jail for its treatment of mentally ill inmates.

The Portsmouth NAACP released the following statement urging the DOJ to continue investigating the HRRJ:

Once again the Portsmouth community has learned of another death at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail. In the early hours of Sunday, March 12th Jakim Funderburt was found in his cell with a bed sheet tied around his neck hanging from the top bunk. An hour later he was pronounced dead. This is the latest incident in an unfortunately growing list of inmate deaths at the correctional facility.

We are outraged with the continuing neglect and mistreatment of inmates at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail. The jail’s credibility and the public’s trust in the jail administration are steadily declining with every violation of human and civil rights. Unfortunately, we do not see this situation improving drastically in the near future which is again the reason why we strongly recommended the deferment of the hiring of a new superintendent until the Department of Justice concluded its investigative findings. We still maintain several concerns regarding the decision to move forward with the hiring in lieu of recent situations that were publically brought to light that happened at the Glenn Allen Detention Center in 2013 regarding the mistreatment of mentally ill patients.

We urge the Department of Justice to continue its investigation into potential violations of inmates’ constitutional rights at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail with utmost urgency. We will not be silent on this matter. We will leverage our community and legislative partnerships to make substantial changes at the jail.

In the coming days, we will address the community regarding this case and other circumstances at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail.