The family of a young Louisville mother seeks answers to her death while in custody in a Southern Indiana jail. She had bruises on her face at the time of her demise. She also had a fever and vomited just before she died. Attorneys for the family claim Jackson County Jail officials ignored her medical needs and demanded an independent medical examination.
Ta'Neasha Chappell, 23, was arrested on shoplifting charges on May 26. She was believed to be part of a group stealing merchandise worth thousands of dollars from the Edinburg Outlet Mall. Chappell died on July 16 while in police custody as she was being transported to another facility.
Indiana State Police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding Chappell’s death. Pending an autopsy, the cause of death has not been made public. Jail officials told Chappell’s family that her death was likely due to “something chemical.”
I’m Going to Die Here
Conditions at the jail were so poor that they were “cruel and unusual punishment,” according to a lawyer for Chappell’s family. Inmates had to deal with raw sewage and black mold on the premises. Chappell would call her mother, Lavita McClain, telling her they were going to kill her in there. The family wants the jail to release security footage of Chappell during her incarceration.
According to the family’s lawyers, Jackson County deprived Chappell of basic needs and medical care. She had become seriously ill the day before her death. Her symptoms included a high fever and vomiting. While the fever was high enough to require a temperature check four times an hour, emergency medical responders were not called until Chappell became unresponsive 24 hours later. The jail does not usually have medical providers available. Chappell later died at Schneck Medical Center.
The lawyers point out that Jackson County had the highest COVID-19 positive rate in the state, but the jail claims they did not have one case of the disease. The jail simply ignored and neglected inmates with high fevers and breathing difficulties, which the lawyers described as deliberate indifference.
As the lawyers also noted, there is no explanation for the bruises on her face or why she was making “frantic” calls to her family about fears for her safety. Family members say Chappell had no preexisting conditions.
Few Black Female Inmates
The Jackson County Jail, located 50 miles north of Louisville, had few Black female inmates. Those few inmates constantly endured being called the N-word. According to Chappell’s sister, Ronesha Murrell, Chappell was jumped inside the jail, and her neck cut in a prior incident. She was not separated from the rest of the population afterward. Her mother alleged that someone placed a cleaning chemical in her daughter’s juice.
Chappell told her mother that if anything happened to her while in jail, “just know that they did it.”
To learn more about holding prisons and jails accountable for inmate deaths and serious injury, visit our death in custody page. Ready to see if you have a case? Contact us online, by email [hidden email] or by phone at 866.836.4684