Man Jailed for $5 Theft Found Dead in Cell

     (CN) – The Portsmouth, Va. justice system is dealing with a second young black male’s death after 24-year-old Jamycheal Mitchell was found dead in his jail cell.
     On April 22, 18-year-old William Chapman II was shot and killed by Portsmouth police officer Stephen Rankin in a Wal-Mart parking lot.
     A witness told NewsChannel3 that Rankin and Chapman got into a fight. He said Rankin pulled out his Taser first, but Chapman hit it out of his hand. The witness said Chapman then lunged at the officer, and Rankin shot and killed Chapman.
     Chapman was reportedly shot in the face and chest. The Commonwealth’s attorney is now seeking an indictment on Rankin.
     On the same day Chapman was killed, Mitchell was arrested on charges of petty larceny and trespassing at a 7-Eleven for reportedly stealing a Snickers bar, a 2-liter Mountain Dew and a Zebra Cake, worth about $5 total.
     According to the Virginian Pilot, Portsmouth police received a call around 5:45 a.m. on Aug. 19, 2015 from the Hampton Roads Regional Jail after guards making their rounds found Mitchell unresponsive. A jail officer said Mitchell’s death appeared to be from natural causes, and a state medical examiner’s office spokeswoman said investigations typically take between 12 and 18 weeks.
     Mitchell had bipolar disability and was unable to work, according to the Pilot report. He reportedly signed paperwork waiving his right to a defense lawyer.
     A forensic psychologist said Mitchell was “manic and psychotic” during an interview after his arrest, according to the newspaper. A judge found Mitchell incompetent to stand trial and ordered him transferred to Eastern State Hospital, but no beds were available.
     While waiting for a bed to open at the hospital, Mitchell’s mental and physical state were deteriorating, according to his aunt Roxanne Adams, who spoke with the Pilot.
     “To me, his appearance from when he was arrested to his appearance at his death was just appalling,” Adams told the newspaper. “He looked different. He looked so thin and frail.”
     British newspaper The Guardian, which originally broke Mitchell’s story, quoted Mitchell’s relatives as saying they believe he starved to death after refusing to eat or take medication for his mental illness, according to the Pilot. Adams reportedly told The Guardian that family members were unable to visit him because he never filled out an official list of visitors.
     No administrative or criminal charges have been filed yet for Mitchell’s death.

%d bloggers like this: