Ta’Neasha Chappell’s family reacts to newly released video of her in pain before her death

ISP said on July 16, Ta'neasha Chappell was taken from the jail to Schneck Medical Center and...
ISP said on July 16, Ta'neasha Chappell was taken from the jail to Schneck Medical Center and later died the same day.(Family Photo)
Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 8:09 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Ta’Neasha Chappell’s family has now seen the surveillance video of the final moments of Chappell’s life inside the Jackson County Jail.

The video is worse than Chappell’s family could have imagined.

“They all deserve charges because they all were supposed to get her help and none of them did,” Chappell’s sister, Ronesha Murrell told WAVE 3 News.

Murrell’s sister, had been in pain for hours.

“Ya’ll didn’t give her a chance,” Chappell’s mother, Lavita McClain said. “She was only 23.”

McClain wanted to reach through the television and help her daughter. She was left wondering why no one had the humanity to help her while watching her suffer.

About 24 hours before her death, records show Chappell complained to jail staff she felt ill. Her head and stomach hurt she told them. She felt as if her body was hot.

From then, her health deteriorates. The videos from inside her cell show her vomiting, moaning, and collapsing to the floor more than four times.

During her time there, jail staff does come to the door several times. But, they are not seen entering the cell, giving her aid or any medicine. They instead tell her to put her clothes on, and leave.

“Last chance,” Ed Rutan, the jail’s nurse says. “You can get dressed and talk to me or I’m going to go and my thing,” he said. Rutan had asked two times before, but never entered the cell. Chappell is seen disoriented and having difficulty standing up.

“I watched them put on the news how they save dogs, how they save cats, how they rub on dogs how they rub on cats,” McClain said. “Y’all treated my baby like she was nothing.”

Chappell’s death has sparked outrage and protests. The frustration now fueled by anger after seeing what went on inside her cell.

The videos showed Chappell hitting her head on the metal bed. The sound of the impact is heard on the video. She groans in pain and grabs her head.

A guard would later write on a report that they went to her cell to check on her and did not see any blood. They watched the surveillance video again, they wrote, and determined she had just missed her head.

During the autopsy, the bruising from that impact was visible.

At times, the video shows Chappell covered in her own waste and tried to bang on the door but is too weak.

One guard believed it was all a scam.

“This is just making us think that you’re faking it,” the guard said. “So if you’re not gonna get up and get dressed, we’ll leave you alone and you can sit here and suffer.”

Those words stuck with Chappell’s sister who believes that guard knew she was in fact suffering.

“I had to watch her by herself,” Murrell said. “She looked so lonely.”

About one hour after that guard’s comment, Chappell was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The autopsy found no traces of hard drugs, but did acknowledge her body had levels of toxicity from unknown substances. Her official cause of death was deemed “undetermined.”

Doctors at the hospital believed she showed signs of poisoning from chemicals found in cleaners. They suggest that be investigated further as a potential cause of her death.

But cleaning liquids were not tested during the investigation being conducted by Indiana State Police.

“The Indiana State Police spoke with doctors and chemists and attempted to find a laboratory to test the cleaning agent,” the prosecutor, Jeffrey Chalfant wrote in a declination letter. “The doctors and chemists said that the cleaning agent would not cause death. Despite contacting laboratories all over the United States, the Indiana State Police could not find a laboratory that could test the bodily fluid samples or food containers for the presence of the cleaning agent.”

It is unclear what evidence was collected by ISP and if they believed it could turn into a homicide investigation. ISP did not return the call related to this story.

Chalfant wrote that there was no evidence supporting the suggestion that Chappell had been purposely poisoned and closed the investigation without pursuing any charges.

“No crimes were committed by inmates or employees of the Jackson County Jail related to the death of Ta’Neasha Chappell,” he wrote.

Chalfant’s letter begins with four and a half pages detailing Chappell’s charges related to theft, and a high speed chase through more than two counties. Her charges included escape or fleeing from legal detention, reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident and resisting law enforcement.

The charges are something her family says Chappell lamented and knew she had to pay for, but not with her life.

Those charges were also something Chalfant was familiar with. He was also prosecutor on that case.

“Don’t just make an example out of my sister,” Murrell said. “Make it out of them too. Because I guarantee you if they press them charges on them, people may start doing their job right.”

The only hope the family has now is that the federal governement will investigate why Chappell died, if there a cover up, and if her civil rights were violated. The family said the FBI has not called them back.

The FBI told WAVE 3 News they do not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.

The Department of Justice did not respond to questions on Thursday.

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