MI Jailer Fired for Ignoring Suicidal Inmate’s Pleas for Help
Before she strapped a bra around her neck and tried to hang herself from a prison shower head in Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Michigan, Janika Edmond asked prison guards for a suicide prevention vest.
But state corrections officers Kory Moore and Dianna Callahan blew her off, mocking her instead, talking amongst themselves about a bet they had placed on whether or not the inmate would ask for the vest.
Callahan had won the bet, so she started taunting Moore about how she now owed her a Subway sandwich.
Meanwhile, the weight of Edmond’s body on the shower head caused the bra to break, resulting in the 25-year-old mentally ill inmate falling to the floor and landing on the back of her head.
Several minutes went by before the guards noticed the inmate was lying in a pool of blood dying, the inmate’s choking sounds recorded on a prison video feed.
She was eventually rushed to the hospital but was taken off life support four days later after it was determined she was brain dead.
The incident took placed on November 2, 2015, resulting in both guards placed on administrative leave before they were fired four months later.
It was only then, after reading a local news report about the terminations, that Michigan State Police became aware of Edmond’s death, launching a criminal investigation into the matter.
That investigation led to involuntary manslaughter and willful neglect of duty charges against Callahan last month and she is now facing 15 years in prison, according to MLive.com.
But Moore was not only cleared of any criminal charges, she managed to win her job back through an arbitration process with the help of her union.
She will also receive back pay for the nine months she did not work since she was fired, MLive.com reported last week.
And she will return to her supervisory position as a resident unit manager and prison counselor, a position she received in August 2015, less than three months before Edmond’s death.
In fact, she was Callahan’s supervisor the day they mocked Edmond for asking for a suicide prevention vest.
According to the police complaint, Callahan caused Edmond’s death through negligent omission and by failing to “fulfill her legal duty to timely and properly respond to a suicidal statement by an inmate.”
Just 20 minutes before she was found unconscious on the prison shower floor, Edmonton told jailers she “should kill herself” and requested a suicide prevention vest.
Her request for the vest was denied.
“There is no question she not only declared her intention to commit suicide, but asked for . . . a suicide vest,” David Steingold, an attorney representing Edmond’s family, said.
Instead of helping Edmonton, Callahan can be heard on security video at the prison shouting, “Somebody owes me lunch” – an apparent reference to the bet made as to whether or not Edmond would ask for the vest – a restrictive smock with Velcro used to prevent someone from being able to hurt themselves.
Video footage shows Callahan leaving the area and “appearing to wave and pump her first 3 three times, with her thumb up while nodding her head and looking in the direction of the control area,” according to Michigan State Police.
According to police documents, Callahan then walks over to Kory Moore to talk “about the Subway sandwich” waged in their bet.
Four minutes later, sounds of choking are picked up over the prison’s security’s audio.
Several inmates heard the choking and pleaded for prison staff to help Edmond, shouting “Sarge, Sarge!”
Audio from the prison surveillance camera captured Edmond choking and gasping for air during the next several minutes until a call over radio is finally made for all “health care and yard staff” to report to the segregation unit.
Prison personnel performed CPR for several more minutes, managing to resuscitate Edmond after her heart stopped beating, while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
She was pronounced brain dead a few days later, after apparently donating her organs before she was taken off a life support ventilator.
Upon entering the prison, the only number listed as an emergency contact was a friend.
Nobody from Huron Valley Correctional Facility attempted to reach her family.
Medical staff told prison officials Edmond was brain dead, unlikely to survive, and inquired whether she would be “suitable for organ donation.
Prison officials responded, saying Edmond “had no next of kin, only a friend listed for a contact, and it would be up to the attorney general to continue or terminate care,” according to the investigation by State Police.
Edmond’s father told State Police investigators he was unaware of his daughter’s suicide attempt or even that she’d been hospitalized until after he showed up at the prison trying to visit her several days later.
The warden bore the bad news in the prison lobby.
Michigan Department of Corrections spokesperson Chris Gautz said the prison was fulfilling Edmond’s wishes.
“The prisoner chose to not list her biological family members on her emergency contact list, and so we contacted the person she did place on that list,” he wrote in an email, according to Michigan Radio. “This prisoner was an adult and made the decision that she did not want her biological family notified if there was an emergency, and we respected her wish.”
According to prison and jail records and her family, Janika Edmond led a tough life.
Recently, Edmond attempted suicide in 2014 attempting to strangle herself with a towel in her cell, according to prison records.
Several other attempts were documented while she was at the Lenawee County Jail.
Edmond, who had several convictions for assault, resisting arrest and breaking and entering, was prescribed medication to treat depression and bipolar disorder. Records show Edmond was in constant conflict prison staff for swearing, yelling, not following orders and fighting with other inmates.
Shortly before her death, Edmond had been actively working to rebuild a relationship with her biological family, according to attorney Steingold.
Although Steingold has not yet filed a lawsuit, he told the Detroit Free Press that the failure to prevent Edmond’s suicide is indicative of broader problems at Huron Valley Correctional Facility like overcrowding and the lack of mental and physical health treatment.
PINAC Publisher Carlos Miller contributed to this report.