The former medical provider at the jail where mentally ill inmate Jamycheal Mitchell died under controversial circumstances in 2015 says it will make more witnesses available as part of a criminal investigation.
The Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is now requesting interviews with 22 medical employees working at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in 2015, as well as records, according to a court filing Thursday.
Also, the company’s chief administrative officer said it never received requests for any documents from Virginia State Police related to Mitchell’s death. The 24-year-old died after losing significant weight during a 101-day stay in the jail on shoplifting allegations. No information has been publicly provided that explains what led to his death .
Alabama-based NaphCare was the medical provider in the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth during the time Mitchell was housed there.
Virginia State Police have been investigating Mitchell’s death since last year. Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie N. Morales, in a court filing last week, said the medical provider had refused to make certain witnesses available and said records obtained by state police “do not reflect the totality of the file maintained on Jamycheal Mitchell by the medical services provider.”
Officials with NaphCare held a conference call with Morales on Tuesday.
Bradford T. McLane, the company’s chief of administration, acknowledged Wednesday that the company in late November declined to make current and former employees available for police interviews without counsel present. The company later complied with every request made by a state police investigator, he said.
“We don’t believe that any of our staff did anything wrong, much less criminally wrong,” McLane said.
One current and one former NaphCare employee were interviewed, with counsel present. The interview was conducted for a limited purpose.
McLane said NaphCare understands that there may be additional witnesses.
“We’re trying to get that information from Ms. Morales, and then we’ll endeavor to make them available,” McLane said. “We just want to communicate that we’re cooperating and we’ve done what was asked.”
He also said: “We never received any requests for documents at all.”
That raises questions about the thoroughness of the state police investigation.
Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller was not available but forwarded a request for comment to Capt. Timothy Reibel, who did not respond.
After state police began their investigation last year, Morales asked them in August for additional investigation after she reviewed preliminary findings. In March, she asked police to investigate new allegations.
The investigation is ongoing.
Morales on May 24 filed a motion with Portsmouth Circuit Court asking for a special grand jury, which would have subpoena power to obtain records and examine witnesses. Portsmouth’s three circuit judges, William S. Moore Jr., Johnny E. Morrison and Kenneth R. Melvin, denied the request two days later, writing in an order that the residents of Portsmouth would bring no special expertise to the case, and other reasons.
Morales disputed their rationale in a motion to reconsider, arguing that the law doesn’t require citizens to have special expertise, but that the residents of Portsmouth “are best equipped to evaluate the commonwealth’s evidence in this matter.”
In Thursday’s court filing, Morales wrote that NaphCare agreed to provide any requested records and allow employees to be interviewed.
“Therefore, at this time, the commonwealth anticipates that the records and witnesses it seeks to obtain by way of the special grand jury should not require the use of compulsory process,” she wrote.
But if that doesn’t happen, she wrote, she would again ask the judges to reconsider their denial of a special grand jury.