Family of woman who hanged herself with a bra in Michigan correctional facility to receive $860,000 as part of lawsuit settlement
25-year-old Janika Edmond took her life at the Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Michigan in 2015 after two previous attempts had failed. Her family has now won a lawsuit against the facility.
The family of a woman who hanged herself in jail with her bra and had filed a lawsuit against the corrections department for trying to cover up alleged misconduct from prison guards that led to her death has been awarded $860,000 as part of a settlement.
According to the MLive, 25-year-old Janika Edmond had repeatedly expressed a desire to kill herself after she was incarcerated for violating her probation and had even attempted suicide twice prior to her successful attempt in 2015.
She was first sentenced in 2011 to five years of probation after she was convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon and was subsequently jailed for six months after she broke that order when she was caught with marijuana.
During that stint behind bars, she assaulted a guard and was ordered to serve further time, which is when she reportedly told guards that prison would not be good for her mental health.
Records show she attempted to kill herself twice in the following months with a sheet and a towel at the Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Michigan where she was incarcerated and asked the guards for a suicide prevention vest to prevent further attempts.
However, the lawsuit filed by Edmond's family alleged the guards ignored her requests and, instead, made bets on whether the 25-year-old would ask for the vest. One of those guards, identified as Diana Callahan, was said to have been seen pumping her fist in the air and saying, "Somebody owes me lunch" in response to the request.
It also pointed to surveillance video taken inside the prison that showed the guards failing to respond immediately to her cell when they heard choking sounds emanating from it. Because of their lack of intervention, Edmond died at a hospital a few days later.
After the suicide, Callahan was charged in connection to the inmate's death and sentenced this past December to six months in prison and two years probation for involuntary manslaughter.
She was also fired from the correctional facility. But the family saw the sentence as just a "slap on the wrist."
This past week, U.S District Court Judge Robert Cleveland approved a settlement in connection to the family's lawsuit, which also accused the Michigan Department of Corrections of failing to properly train its guards, that will see the corrections department pay $860,000 as reparation.
MLive reported that Edmond's two half-brothers, Jacob Christopher Edmond and Cazz Vinson Jr., will receive $275,000 each from the settlement and that the two Detroit law firms which brought the case will receive $142,000 each. Her birth parents were excluded from the settlement because both lost their parental rights before she was sent to prison in 2013.
Speaking after the settlement was confirmed, attorney David Steingold said, "No amount of money, obviously, can ever make up for the loss of a loved one," adding, "It’s a sad situation and if her death prevents others from suffering that same fate - from the complete neglect of guards at the facility - then at least some good will come out of this."