A young man was arrested by Portsmouth, Virginia police over a mere $5 in groceries that he stole because he was hungry.
The arrest came on the same day a Portsmouth cop shot and killed an unarmed African American 18-year-old.
But now, Jamycheal Mitchell, 24, has been found dead in his jail cell, after spending four months behind bars with no conviction and no bail.
Mitchell was said to have had mental health problems. But police aren’t claiming he committed suicide.
While the Guardian has been told that “senior prison officials said his death was not being treated as suspicious,” Natasha Perry, the master jail officer at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail, said “as of right now it is deemed ‘natural causes’.”
That’s right, they are saying that a 24 year old with no serious medical issues to speak of, died of “natural causes” behind bars in the Portsmouth jail.
Perry said in an interview that “there were no obvious outward signs of injury to the 24-year-old’s body.”
She assures the public that the “Portsmouth police are looking into the death.”
Do you expect there to be justice with the police investigating this suspicious death?
Mitchell’s family has so far said that it is possible he starved to death, after refusing meals.
He was apparently engaged in some sort of hunger strike, to try to actually face a judge for the charges he was accused of.
“His body failed,” Roxanne Adams, Mitchell’s aunt, said. “It is extraordinary. The person I saw deceased was not even the same person.”
She said that Mitchell had no muscle mass left by the time he died. As a registered nurse, she said she believes he was starving himself, apparently to pressure the “justice” system to stop locking him up indefinitely.
All of this was over the misdemeanor charges of petty larceny and trespassing.
Mitchell was accused of stealing a $1 bottle of Mountain Dew, a Snickers bar and a Zebra Cake. Combined, these amounted to a total of $5 he is accused of stealing from a 7-Eleven.
For that, he has been locked up for months, awaiting trail, and it is not even clear that he committed those crimes. There may have, perhaps, been a dispute about payment. Or perhaps he began consuming the food in the store and his credit or debit card was declined. Both of these scenarios could result in the same charges.
Perhaps still, he was poor, hungry, and stole food from time to time. Are we really in the business of locking people in cages for months over stealing food?
Mitchell’s death has not been covered by national, or even local media in Virginia, aside from a brief mention on the 11 o’clock news. Help us SPREAD THE WORD before the police start shaping the narrative of this young man’s death!
(Article by Jackson Marciana; S. Wooten and M. David)