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Judge approves settlement in jail death of mentally ill man

NORFOLK (AP) A $3 million settlement for the family of a mentally ill man who died in jail after being arrested for stealing $5 in snacks has been approved by a judge who called his death “shameful.”

Jamycheal Mitchell had bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. He died at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail on Aug. 19, 2015. U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith approved the settlement March 19.

In court documents, Smith wrote that accountability for Mitchell’s death remains “woefully lacking.” But the judge also said the case has heightened public awareness of the problems of incarcerating mentally ill people.

“The review and oversight of the problems of addressing mental health issues through correctional facilities appears now to be an ongoing issue of public concern. Consequently, this case and the resulting settlement, together with continued efforts to improve the systemic bureaucratic and individual failures that let to Mr. Mitchell’s shameful death, do give importance and meaning to his legacy,” Smith wrote.

Mitchell’s official cause of death was heart failure accompanying a wasting syndrome.

Mitchell had been ordered transferred to a state mental hospital, but he was never sent there.

The Mitchell estate was represented by Mark J. Krudys of Richmond and other attorneys. Smith approved fees of $690,000 to The Krudys Law Firm PLC, $300,000 to attorney John F. Preis of Henrico and $10,000 to Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers.

Beneficiaries of the Mitchell estate have not resolved how to divide the proceeds of the settlement. The issue remains pending before Smith.

Additional reporting by VLW.

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