PORTSMOUTH, Va. – Hampton Roads Regional Jail officials responded to claims of inmates facing threats for speaking up about the death of another inmate.
In a court filing Friday, jail officials wrote that there is no evidence four inmates are being threatened or targeted. “While there may be cases of witness intimidation requiring court intervention, this is not such a case,” a document reads.
The four inmates wrote letters to the lawyer representing Jamycheal Mitchell’s family. Mitchell died in a cell at the jail last summer. His family is now suing. The inmates are named in the lawsuit as having witnessed alleged mistreatment and abuse of Mitchell. Since then, they say they’re being retaliated against. Mitchell’s family’s lawyer, Mark Krudys, asked a judge to make sure the inmates are kept safe.
“The officer told me the other day that I was walking the green mile and I’m a dead man walking,” wrote inmate Jade Johnson in a letter Krudys. News 3 spoke with Johnson at the jail on Wednesday. “I’m not asking for anybody to believe me,” he said. “I’m just letting it be known, reaching out for people to understand there needs to be something done about the way they treat people in here.”
In response to Johnson’s claims, jail officials wrote he was not even at the jail at the same time as Mitchell. They say they met with Johnson on Thursday, where he said he felt like a target, but that he didn’t give specifics.
News 3 also spoke with inmate Steven Gray, who told News 3 he’s in fear because of corrections officers and he’s not sure what will happen next. “What are [the corrections officers] going to try to do? What are they going to say?” he said.
Jail officials countered his claims, writing that “there is no evidence supporting Gray’s allegations of harassment.”
They also responded to the claims of two inmates who are now at Western Tidewater Regional Jail, named Dominique Vaughan and David Hurst. The officials are asking a judge to deny Krudys’ request.
In response to the lawsuit, a statement from the attorney read: “We deny the allegations made against our facility and staff and believe that the facts will establish that our employees were professional and caring in their interactions with Mr. Mitchell.”