Whistleblower complaint filed in inmate death investigation

AP News
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Posted: Jul 22, 2016 4:38 PM

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia inspector general's office failed to properly investigate the death of a 24-year-old mentally ill inmate, according to a whistleblower complaint.

Cathy Hill, senior project manager at the agency, and two independent consultants filed the complaint Wednesday, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2a54h2J).

The complaint said the agency did not adequately investigate the death of Jamycheal Mitchell. According to a medical examiner, Mitchell died of heart failure last August accompanied by severe weight loss several months after being arrested for stealing $5 worth of junk food. Mitchell's family filed a $60 million wrongful death lawsuit in May, saying correctional officers at the Hampton Roads regional jail physically abused him and withheld food.

A spokeswoman with the inspector general's office declined to comment to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Hill's complaint accused State Inspector General June Jennings and another employee of misleading state lawmakers and violating federal privacy laws.

"Our concerns have grown to the degree that we feel we can no longer in good faith remain silent," according to the complaint from Hill and the consultants, Ann White and William Thomas.

The majority of the investigation was completed from behind a desk rather than from site visits and one-on-one interviews with employees of the agencies responsible for Mitchell's case, the complaint said.

"By failing to go to the facilities during the course of the seven-month review/investigation of the Mitchell case, the OSIG missed a critical opportunity to hear from concerned staff that may have wanted desperately to share concerns of inadequate care and possibly abuse and/or neglect," the complaint said.

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Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, http://www.timesdispatch.com