Family hires prominent legal team after inmate’s death


The family of a 23-year-old Louisville, Kentucky, woman who died Friday while in the custody of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department has hired a high-profile legal team.

“Our team has been given the privilege of seeking truth and justice for the family of Ta’Neasha Chappell,” Sam Aguiar, a Louisville attorney, said on Facebook on Wednesday.

He also announced in his post that Chappell’s family will be represented by Louisville lawyer Lonita Baker and Florida-based attorney Ben Crump, too. Baker and Crump both were able to obtain a $12 million settlement from the city of Louisville over the killing of Breonna Taylor by police in March 2020.

According to a news release from the Indiana State Police, Chappell died at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour shortly after being taken there from the Jackson County Jail in Brownstown.

On Saturday, the sheriff’s department contacted the state police post at Versailles to request an investigation into Chappell’s death.

An autopsy was performed Sunday as a part of the investigation, and detectives are awaiting autopsy and toxicology results, according to the news release. No other details about her death have been made public.

When reaching out to the sheriff’s department Wednesday, a representative referred The Tribune to the state police for any questions regarding the investigation. The state police could not be reached for comment about the investigation at press time.

Social media speculation arose Tuesday afternoon about a possible protest at the Jackson County Jail on Wednesday morning. The sheriff’s department confirmed that no protest happened.

The attorneys for Chappell’s family released a prepared statement Wednesday:

“Ta’Neasha, a 23-year-old mother of one, died on July 16 while in the custody of the Jackson County, Indiana, sheriff’s department. Her family wasn’t called for more than three hours after she died. And now, the sheriff’s department refuses to tell the full truth about what happened. They won’t explain why Ta’Neasha’s face was swollen and beaten. It makes you think of Sandra Bland. They won’t explain why they ignored Ta’Neasha’s medical needs during the 24 hours leading up to her death, despite her constant vomiting and rising fever. They won’t explain what video footage shows, even though the facility has new, state-of-the-art cameras.”

The end of the statement reads, “What happened to Ta’Neasha Chappell?”

Chappell was booked into the jail May 26 on eight criminal charges stemming from the theft of items from the Polo Ralph Lauren store in Edinburgh. She was held on $4,000 bond.

She was charged in Jackson County with escape while inflicting bodily injury on another person, three counts of resisting law enforcement, leaving the scene of an accident, reckless driving and possession of marijuana. She also faced a theft charge in Bartholomew County.

Her arrest came after a pursuit that started when a state trooper attempted a traffic stop near Seymour.

The pursuit went through three counties and lasted more than a half-hour on Interstate 65. It ended near Exit 7 in Clark County when Chappell collided with an Indiana State Police commercial motor vehicle, police said. More than $3,000 in suspected stolen items were located in Chappell’s vehicle after the crash, police said.

According to court records, Jackson Circuit Court Judge Richard W. Poynter denied Chappell a reduction in bond on July 8.

Find the story in Thursday’s Tribune.

No posts to display