Black Man Held for Months Over $5 Grocery Theft Found Dead in Jail

Jamycheal Mitchell
Jamycheal Mitchell

A 24-year-old black man was found dead in a Virginia jail cell after he was held without bail for four months over an alleged theft of $5 worth of groceries, reports The Guardian.

Jamycheal Mitchell, who reportedly suffered from mental illness and may have starved himself to death, was discovered in his cell last week at Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth, Va. He was arrested in April for allegedly stealing a Zebra Cake, Mountain Dew and Snickers bar from a 7-Eleven convenience store, writes the news outlet.

Jail officials said that the death appeared to be from "natural causes" and that there were no signs of injury on the body. Mitchell’s aunt Roxanne Adams told The Guardian that he was “extremely emaciated” and “practically had no muscle mass left.”


“He was just deteriorating so fast,” she told The Guardian. “His body failed. It is extraordinary. The person I saw deceased was not even the same person.”

Mitchell, who reportedly suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, had refused to eat and “take his medication while serving time behind bars for misdemeanor charges of petty larceny and trespassing,” his family told the publication.

Mitchell, who was deemed incompetent to stand trial, was supposed to be taken to a state-run mental-health facility, but red tape kept him behind bars, The Guardian says. It was unclear why Mitchell was not released on bail, the report says.

The news comes after an uproar this summer over the death of Kalief Browder, 22, at New York City’s Rikers Island jail. Browder reportedly killed himself in June after struggling to readjust to society after being jailed for three years without a conviction or even a trial.  

Read more at The Guardian.

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