Crime, Deaths, Health Care / Medicine, Labor / Employment, Suicide, Violence

Labor Lawyer Found Dead in Cell After Being Denied Mental Health Care

Paul Mannina

Today we’ve got some somber news out of Washington, D.C., where Paul Mannina, a Labor Department attorney who worked in the Division of Plan Benefits Security, was found dead in his jail cell. This isn’t your everyday lawyer death. Mannina was being held because a judge found him to be a danger to the community — you see, this labor lawyer was accused of brutally beating and sexually assaulting his coworker, a fellow attorney.

Authorities have not yet classified Mannina’s death as a suicide, but just hours prior to his death, he was denied release from jail to seek mental health care. Continue reading for some additional details about the underlying case and the grisly scene in Mannina’s jail cell…

Prior to his death, Mannina had been accused of forcing his way into his coworker’s home, and was eventually charged with assault with the intent to commit first-degree sexual assault and burglary while armed. The Washington Post describes Mannina’s alleged attack:

The brutal attack occurred June 5 and involved a stun gun, handcuffs and pepper spray. At first, the Northwest Washington victim told police that the attack was random, but she later pointed to a co-worker she knew for 21 years, had harbored a longtime crush on her and with whom she had planned to grab coffee in the morning and spend the day, court documents say. …

Court documents say that as Mannina walked out of the victim’s home — after beating her so intensely that she needed surgery to implant a metal plate in her face — he told her, “I’ll just go shoot myself.”

It may be difficult to feel bad for a man who was capable of doing such a thing, but friends and family claim that there were signs that Mannina was in need of help. Two days after the assault, Mannina was hospitalized due to a “change in his mental state,” but his attorney declined to elaborate on the reasons behind his client’s hospital stay during a preliminary hearing — which may have been a foolish move.

On Monday, Judge Robert Richter refused to release Mannina from jail despite pleas that the Labor Department attorney needed to seek mental health care that he’d be unable to receive while in custody. Judge Richter noted that Mannina’s hold in jail would be revisited if he were given details on Mannina’s mental state, but only a few hours had passed before it was already too late.

While there were no indications Mannina was suicidal (aside from his mention of shooting himself), yesterday he was found dead with a fatal wound. FOX DC describes the scene in Mannina’s jail cell:

Mannina was found bleeding from a wound to his throat just before 4 a.m. According to law enforcement sources investigators questioned his cellmate but believe the Labor Department attorney cut himself with a razor. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

A friend of the deceased labor lawyer believes “the system at large failed Paul Mannina by not recognizing and acting on the need to treat him and to see that he received the medical and psychiatric help that the situation warranted.” As with many of the crimes that have been seen in the news lately, perhaps all of this could have been prevented if Mannina had sought psychiatric intervention far earlier.

If you believe you are suffering from undiagnosed mental illness, don’t be afraid to seek help. There are friends, family, colleagues, and organizations that you can call. You can get in touch with the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s referral and support hotline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or the American Bar Association’s Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs hotline at 1-866-LAW-LAPS (529-5277).

We wish the victim of this savage attack the best as she continues on her road to recovery.

Accused Labor Dept. lawyer found dead in cell; throat was cut [Washington Post]
What happened to Paul Mannina? [Washington Post]
Dept. of Labor attorney charged with sexual attack commits suicide in DC jail [FOX DC]
Labor Department lawyer accused in stun-gun assault is found dead in his jail cell [ABA Journal]

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