The Michigan Department of Corrections has settled a lawsuit for $860,000 stemming from the 2015 suicide of an inmate, who killed herself after guards placed a bet on whether she would threaten to take her own life.
Prior to taking a shower, Janika Edmond, 25, had asked officers at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility for a suicide prevention vest, an article of clothing that reduces a person’s ability to harm themselves. The request was ignored.
Records of the interaction obtained by MLive show that Edmond told corrections officer Dianna Callahan that she intended to kill herself, prompting Callahan to “pump her fist 3 times” and yell, “Somebody owes me lunch!” Court documents suggest the guards had wagered a Subway sandwich.
Minutes later, officers didn’t immediately respond to audible choking sounds as Edmond harmed herself in the prison shower. She died at a nearby hospital days later.
Edmond had a history of mental illness and incidents in which she had considered killing herself before.
According to the Detroit Free Press, the Department of Corrections also failed to promptly report Edmond’s suicide to Michigan State Police, as required. The Corrections Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from HuffPost.
The $860,000 settlement will be used to cover legal fees incurred by Edmond’s family. Two of her half brothers will also receive just under $275,000 each.
Callahan and the other employee who took the bet, Kory Moore, were fired after an investigation into Edmond’s death. Moore was reinstated after arbitration, although she later left the job of her own accord.
Callahan pleaded no contest in October to a charge of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to six months in jail.
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.