Ex-corrections officer charged in inmate’s suicide
The Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office announced charges Wednesday against Dianna Callahan, a 47-year-old former corrections officer, alleging involuntary manslaughter and willful neglect of public duty in an inmate’s November 2015 suicide.
Callahan, who hails from Flint, was working at the Michigan Department of Corrections’ Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Pittsfield Township, just outside of Ann Arbor, when inmate Janika Nicole Edmond killed herself.
Media accounts of the case say that Edmond, who is believed to have a history of mental health issues, had asked for a suicide prevention vest but was denied it. Minutes later she was found unconscious; authorities say she hanged herself and wound up dying days later, according to the Ann Arbor News.
Steven Hiller, chief assistant prosecutor for Washtenaw, told The News on Wednesday that the Washtenaw County Medical Examiner determined that “anoxic encephalopathy secondary to hanging” was Edmond's official cause of death, and that the manner of death was suicide. She was 25.
The former officer is accused of being “grossly negligent in failing, in violation of MDOC policy, to perform a legal duty to timely and properly respond to a threat of suicide" made by the inmate, and that that failure resulted in the inmate’s death, according to a statement from the prosecutor's office. Michigan State Police conducted the investigation.
Callahan is due in court Jan. 26 for a probable cause conference at 8:30 a.m. and on Feb. 2 at 9:30 a.m. for a preliminary exam. Both proceedings will be held at the 14A-1 District Court building on Washtenaw Avenue in Pittsfield Township.
The Michigan Department of Corrections says Callahan no longer works with the department. She was suspended following Edmond's death and fired nearly a year ago, according to spokesman Chris Gautz. Until then, she had been working for the corrections department since September 14, 2003.
"There is nothing else to say at this point, given that this is now a legal matter and one that does not involved one of our employees," said Gautz.