Family of inmate who died by suicide in Virginia jail gets $1.75 million settlement

Jan 19, 2024, 2:46 PM

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — The family of a man who died by suicide at a Virginia jail after his antipsychotic medication was discontinued has received a $1.75 million settlement in a civil lawsuit.

Records at U.S. District Court in Alexandria show that the family of Christopher Lapp, who died in 2021 at the Alexandria jail, accepted the settlement offer Thursday from a psychiatrist who worked at the facility and was the target of the suit.

Lapp, who was 62 when he died, was being held at the jail awaiting sentencing on a federal charge for the armed robbery of a Wells Fargo Bank in Great Falls in November 2018. Lapp was bipolar and had a history of mental health problems, and the robbery occurred during what the judge called a manic episode and what his family’s lawyer described as a psychotic break.

He was initially found incompetent to stand trial but was restored to competency after being sent to the federal medical prison in Butner, North Carolina, where he received mental health care.

Lapp then decided to plead guilty to the bank robbery charge. Judge, T.S. Ellis III accepted the plea but ordered that Lapp be returned to Butner while he awaited sentencing so he could continue treatment.

But Butner refused to take him back, saying it had a policy against accepting an inmate who had not yet been sentenced for “continuity of care purposes.”

Lapp remained at the Alexandria jail, and the psychiatrist who evaluated him there ended his medications after Lapp insisted he did not need them.

Lapp hanged himself in his cell in May 2021, roughly a month after his plea. In a note left behind for his daughter, he wrote that “some bad people have been after me for a while.”

A month later Ellis chastised Butner officials during a hearing for disregarding his order. He also accepted a measure of blame himself — Lapp’s lawyer had filed notice to the court in late April that Butner refused to admit his client, but Ellis said he was unaware that Lapp had not been transferred.

Last month a different judge dismissed the federal government as a defendant in the civil suit but allowed the case to continue against the jail psychiatrist.

The settlement includes no admission of guilt or liability. In court papers, the psychiatrist’s lawyers argued, among other things, that Lapp didn’t want to take the antipsychotic medications and he had no ability to force him.

The jail declined to comment Friday.

Lapp was a nuclear physicist who had multiple degrees including a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His father, Ralph Lapp, was a scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project.

He lived in a wealthy Great Falls neighborhood where he owned a $1.3 million home. Prosecutors said in court papers that Lapp had multiple romantic interests, including a Playboy model, and “he was working to keep his romantic love interests happy with additional money.”

National News

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks about his possible political future during an interview at the Ke...

Associated Press

Gov. Andy Beshear endorses Harris amid speculation on whether he’s in the running to join the ticket

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday he spoke with Vice President Kamala Harris soon after she became the prohibitive favorite to lead the Democratic ticket, and said his state’s progress “should be a model for the country” as speculation swirled around whether he’s in the running to join the slate. Beshear […]

12 minutes ago

Associated Press

Largest trial court in the US closes after ransomware attack, California officials say

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The largest trial court in the country was closed Monday after a ransomware attack shut down its computer system late last week, officials with the Superior Court of Los Angeles County said. The court disabled its computer network upon discovery of the cybersecurity attack early Friday, and the system remained down […]

38 minutes ago

Associated Press

Cleveland-Cliffs will make electrical transformers at shuttered West Virginia tin plant

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Cleveland-Cliffs announced Monday it will produce electrical transformers in a $150 million investment at a West Virginia facility that closed earlier this year. The company hopes to reopen the Weirton facility in early 2026 and “address the critical shortage of distribution transformers that is stifling economic growth across the United States,” […]

41 minutes ago

Charlie Woods drives off the 18th tee during the first round of stroke play of the U.S. Junior Amat...

Associated Press

Tiger Woods watches 15-year-old son Charlie shoot a 12-over 82 in US Junior Amateur at Oakland Hills

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Charlie Woods, the 15-year-old son of Tiger Woods, shot a 12-over 82 on Monday in the U.S. Junior Amateur at Oakland Hills. Woods birdied both of the par 5s on the Oakland Hills North Course and struggled on the par 3s and 4s, carding five double bogeys and four bogeys. […]

41 minutes ago

Image: Vice President Kamala Harris speaks from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Mo...

Steve Coogan

Harris wins Pelosi endorsement, claims many of the delegates she needs for the nomination

Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, who initially had been one of the notable holdouts, endorsed Kamala Harris Monday.

1 hour ago

Associated Press

No one hurt when CSX locomotive derails and strikes residential garage in Niagara Falls

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (AP) — A locomotive derailed and struck a residential garage Monday in Niagara Falls, according to CSX. No one was injured. The impact caused a loss of diesel fuel, which was contained and did not impact any waterways, the railway said in an emailed statement. Photos from the scene show the blue […]

1 hour ago

Family of inmate who died by suicide in Virginia jail gets $1.75 million settlement