Family of Portsmouth man found dead in jail files $60 million lawsuit

Posted at 4:27 PM, May 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-20 15:13:30-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - The family of a Portsmouth man who died in jail has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Norfolk Federal Court.

On August 19, 2015, 24-year-old Jamycheal Mitchell's body was found inside the Hampton Roads Regional Jail. The lawsuit says he withered away in jail and died from wasting syndrome.

A judge’s order that would have sent Mitchell to a state mental health facility had been sitting in a file drawer for weeks before his death.

Jamycheal Mitchell

Jamycheal Mitchell

Mitchell was arrested in April 2015for stealing $5 in food from a Portsmouth convenience store.

A Portsmouth judge ordered Mitchell to Eastern State Hospital for mental health treatment two times. A state investigation revealed the second order on July 31, 2015 made it to the hospital admission coordinator, but she never placed Mitchell on the waiting list.

The lawsuit filed by Mitchell's aunt, Roxanne Adams, names about 40 defendants, including the jail, the jail's health care provider, doctors, nurses and more than 20 jail employees.

The 115 page document describes the way his family says Mitchell was treated in the jail.

Click here to read the lawsuit. Warning: some of the details may be considered disturbing.

The lawsuit includes descriptions from other inmates on how Mitchell was treated. One inmate said guards treated Mitchell "like a circus animal," and dragged him, naked, out of his cell. At times, Mitchell was forced to the ground, sprayed with mace and beaten by correction officers, according to the lawsuit.

In addition to physical and verbal abuse, the lawsuit cites how correctional officers denied Mitchell food and ignored his horrific living conditions. An inmate estimated Mitchell would sometimes only receive one meal over several days.

Aside from his treatment, the lawsuit says Mitchell's health providers didn't perform all the necessary checkups and when they did, the checkups were not completed. The lawsuit says the jail's mental health director had almost daily contact with Mitchell and could have witnessed his deterioration, but took no action.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, seeks $60 million in damages.

Additionally, the Portsmouth Commonwealth Attorney's Office told NewsChannel 3 that they have requested that Virginia State Police conduct a criminal investigation into Mitchell's death.

Click here to read a statement from the attorney for Hampton Roads Regional Jail. In it, the jail denies the allegations made against the jail and its employees.

Previous Coverage:

Family of Portsmouth man found dead in jail cell: “He was unrecognizable”

Report says order for transfer not discovered until after Portsmouth inmate’s death

Multiple missteps lead to Portsmouth man’s death in jail

Another report released after inmate dies in Portsmouth jail