Family wants answers after release of video evidence surrounding Portsmouth City Jail inmate’s death

Posted at 4:03 PM, Aug 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-31 22:00:01-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - News 3 has obtained details about Pamela Riddick, 66, who died while in custody of the Portsmouth City Jail on August 29.

Pamela Riddick

Riddick died less than two days after she was arrested on grand larceny charges.

Family attorney Don Scott said video evidence surrounding Riddick's death shows complete negligence from the Sheriff's Office and is demanding for a grand jury to investigate the matter.

Scott also wants the Commonwealth's Attorney, Stephanie Morales, to step down from the case.

News 3 spoke with Portsmouth Sheriff's Office spokesperson Capt. Lee Cherry on October 30, 2017.

Cherry replied, "Mr. Riddick had denied medical treatment. She didn't want any medical treatment. The one person who says she was hollering and screaming--we have three witnesses that were inmates in adjoining cells that signed documents that they didn't hear any screaming."

However, Scott and family members believes Riddick died inside the cell and that deputies did not follow proper polices and procedues.

Scott said the video evidence shows an inmate next to Riddick's cell waving out for help around 4 a.m. on August 23.

He also mentioned there were no deputies nearby as state police says they're suppose to check on inmates twice an hour.

"I guarantee you that nobody lost their job because Pamela Riddick died," Scott added. "Nobody was held accountable. Not one person."

The family attorney told News 3 that he wants Morales to step down from the case because he believes there's enough evidence for a grand jury to get involved, and he is accusing Morales of not being transparent about the investigation with the family.

"She told us back in February that after 90 days she would get back with us and let us know what happened, but we haven't heard a peep," said Scott. "She hadn't reached out to us, and we don't feel like its our responsibility to reach out to do her job," Scott mentioned.

The Portsmouth Sheriff's Office said they're currently conducting an internal investigation to make sure Riddick's case was handled properly.

Family attorney Don Scott hasn't said whether or not they will file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Sheriff's Office, but will continue to do whatever is necessary to get justice for Riddick.

The Commonwealth's Attorney responded to Don Scott's allegations with the following statement:

The case is still being actively investigated. There are additional investigative tasks that have been requested of the Portsmouth Police Department. Those investigative tasks are still pending, and the investigation is not complete until we receive the results of these tasks. Our office is not an investigative body, and we lack the resources to independently conduct our own investigations without the assistance of police investigators.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales initially requested a meeting with Ms. Riddick’s family in October 2017. Ms. Riddick’s family declined to meet with our office until early 2018, and a meeting was finally arranged in February 2018, at which time Ms. Morales met with Ms. Riddick’s family and her attorneys. During that meeting, Ms. Morales informed the family and their attorneys about the general procedure the investigation would follow. Ms. Morales advised the family and their attorneys that our office would be requesting that the Portsmouth Police Department perform additional investigative tasks to complete the file, and that the investigation was incomplete until we received the results. During that meeting, Ms. Morales advised the family and their attorneys to contact her at any time for updates on the status of the investigation. Our office never received a subsequent request for an update on the status of the investigation from the family or their attorneys. Ms. Morales remains available to discuss the ongoing investigation with the family and recognizes the difficulty of their situation and the pain of their loss.

To avoid any future misinterpretation, our office is releasing simultaneously with this statement an advisory detailing the procedures we follow in cases involving in-custody deaths and officer-involved shootings. Our goal is to ensure that the public is not misled by any inaccurate information from third parties.

Portsmouth Police Chief Tonya Chapman also made a statement detailing the timeline of the Riddick investigation:

On August 23, 2017 members of the Portsmouth Police Department started an investigation of an in custody death that occurred at the Portsmouth City Jail. During the course of the investigation, Portsmouth Police Department, Major Crimes Unit interviewed several witnesses, to include Deputies, Firefighters, Police Officers, Medics, and met with representatives from the Medical Examiner’s office. October 20, 2017, members of the Portsmouth Police Department met with representatives of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and gave a presentation of the action taken during the investigation and findings.

On November 3, 2017 a casefile was turned over to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office to include a 162 page report along with several copies of video footage. On December 12, 2017, the official medical examiner’s autopsy report was mailed out to the Portsmouth Police Department and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. In December 2017 the Portsmouth Police Department provided an additional copy of the official report, also the Portsmouth Police Department concluded its investigation into the death of Pamela Riddick.  February 9, 2018, an Investigator with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office contacted a Detective with the Major Crimes Unit requesting additional video footage from the jail. This footage was already provided to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office in November 2017.

From February 2018 to August 2018, there has been no contact from the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office involving the death of Pamela Riddick. On Monday, August 27, 2018, an investigator with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office had additional inquiries in reference to the medical examiner’s report. On Thursday, August 30, 2018, Detectives met with the investigator from the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office at the Criminal Investigative Bureau and was advised that the inquiry could only be answered by the medical examiner’s office. During the course of the investigation, Portsmouth Police Department has made themselves available for any additional questions and inquiries.

A spokesperson for the Portsmouth Police Department said Friday night that no additional information about the case, which is ongoing, will be released.