Jamycheal Mithcell, a 24-year-old Portsmouth, Va. man, was found dead in jail last week four months after he was imprisoned for stealing groceries worth around $5 dollars. So far, officials say Mitchell’s cause of death was natural although he suffered from mental health issues according to reports.
The Guardian offered insight into Mitchell’s death, which comes as relations continued to be strained between police officials and the Black community. Adding to Mitchell’s death inside the Hampton Roads Regional Jail is when he was arrested for stealing a candy bar, a snack cake and soda, an unarmed Black teen was shot dead just hours later last April. The Guardian has more on the developing matter, and the publication notes that no other local outlet picked up the story until today (Aug. 28).
From The Guardian:
Jamycheal Mitchell, who had mental health problems, was discovered lying on the floor of his cell by guards early last Wednesday [Aug. 19], according to authorities. While his body is still awaiting an autopsy, senior prison officials said his death was not being treated as suspicious.
“As of right now it is deemed ‘natural causes’,” Natasha Perry, the master jail officer at the Hampton Roads regional jail in Portsmouth, said of his death in an interview. Perry said there were no obvious outward signs of injury to the 24-year-old’s body.
Mitchell’s family said they believed he starved to death after refusing meals and medication at the jail, where he was being held on misdemeanour charges of petty larceny and trespassing. A clerk at Portsmouth district court said Mitchell was accused of stealing a bottle of Mountain Dew, a Snickers bar and a Zebra Cake worth a total of $5 from a 7-Eleven.
According to Mitchell’s aunt, who viewed the body and said that her nephew’s body was without muscle mass. The aunt is a registered nurse. That same aunt said that Mitchell suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia but was not a known troublemaker.
The family has established a GoFundMe page in Mitchell’s honor.