Family Awarded $860K After Guards Bet on Female Inmate's Suicide: 'Somebody Owes Me Lunch'
The inmate had attempted suicide several times while behind bars, her lawyer said.
The Michigan family of an inmate who killed herself in 2015 has been awarded $860,000 in a federal civil suit filed after guards bet on whether she would threaten suicide.
Janika Edmond was 25 when she hanged herself inside the Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti. Her family sued after surveillance video showed a guard pumping her fists in the air and saying, "Somebody owes me lunch," after Edmond shouted she was going kill herself and asked for suicide-prevention vest.
Edmond was in the shower area unobserved after the guard left her post to go downstairs and collect her winnings, which was a Subway sandwich, according Edmond's attorney, David Steingold.
"There's no question that leaving her alone was the same as putting a gun to her head," Steingold told InsideEdition.com. "It's horrible. It's hard to believe that a human life is worth less than a Subway sandwich."
The guard was gone for 17 minutes, according to surveillance video, Steingold said. During that time, Edmond hanged herself with her bra and underwear, he said.
Guards Diana Callahan and Kory Moore had wagered over whether Edmond would threaten suicide after she was told she would not be allowed to see relatives who came to visit her because she had been fighting with her cellmate, Steingold said.
When Edmond became upset and said she wanted the vest, Callahan ignored her and left to collect her winnings from Moore, according to the lawsuit. "It represented a complete neglect of duties by guards on staff," he said.
The inmate, who was five months shy of being released, was found unresponsive. She died days later in a hospital. She had a long history of mental health issues, according to Steingold, and never received the necessary treatment.
"She came from a broken home," he said. "She had mental health issues from the beginning."
The civil suit settlement was approved by a federal judge earlier this month. The corrections department has not commented publicly on the agreement.
Moore and Callahan were fired by the Michigan Department of Corrections. Callahan pleaded no contest to one count of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced in December to six months in prison. Moore regained her position through arbitration but has since left the prison, according to corrections officials.
Edmond had been serving time for a parole violation resulting from charges of assault with a deadly weapon.
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