RICHMOND, Va. – The family of the man who died while in the custody of the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in 2015 has been awarded $3 million in a wrongful death lawsuit.
24-year-old Jamycheal Mitchell was found dead in his cell on August 19, 2015, after EMS staff discovered he was not breathing and did not have a pulse.
His mother, father and half-siblings through both parents will share the settlement, although they have not reached an agreement on how it will be divided among them.
After the family is paid, the settlement states that the defendants “will be released from any and all liability and claims arising from the injuries to and the death of Mitchell and that this matter be dismissed with prejudice as to the Defendants.” They have asked the court to hold a separate, second evidentiary hearing to determine how the proceeds will be distributed.
Mitchell was arrested in April 2015 for stealing $5 worth of food from a Portsmouth convenience store and was awaiting a bed at a mental health hospital thanks to an order from a judge.
However, after Mitchell’s death, an investigation by a state health agency discovered that order never made it into the right hands. Instead, investigators discovered the order sat in a file drawer for weeks and was only rediscovered five days after he died.
After his death, News 3 spoke to Mitchell’s aunt, who said that he withered away in the jail to the point where he was “unrecognizable.”
A 29-page report from the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services revealed a series of miscommunication, oversight and failures from city and state mental health agencies that ended in Mitchell’s death.
The Hampton Roads Regional Jail Authority released a statement on the settlement:
“The family of Jamycheal Mitchell, the Hampton Roads Regional Jail Authority, on behalf of itself and the named individual employees of the Authority, and the Commonwealth of Virginia, on behalf of its named individual employees, reached an amicable settlement, subject to judicial approval, of all legal claims arising out of the death of Jamycheal Mitchell, which occurred on August 19, 2015 while Jamycheal was in custody at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail. After his arrest, Jamycheal was found to be incompetent to stand trial and he was awaiting a transfer to a state-run mental health facility at the time of his death.
Jamycheal’s tragic death has brought statewide attention to the care and treatment of individuals with mental illness who are involved in the criminal justice system. His death has prompted change to Virginia’s laws governing competency restoration and mental health treatment of individuals in jail and continues to serve as a catalyst for improvement of the manner in which such individuals receive mental health treatment and services.
The family has requested, and the Commonwealth has agreed, to keep the family apprised of changes in services provided by DBHDS to inmates and detainees with mental illness.”
Click here to read the full settlement.