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Family of Louisville woman who died in police custody hire Breonna Taylor’s family’s legal team

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 5:43 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 23, 2021 at 12:45 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Family members of a Louisville woman who died in police custody in Jackson County, Indiana have hired the legal team that represented Breonna Taylor’s family. Among the attorneys taking on Ta’neasha Chappell’s family’s case is civil rights lawyer Ben Crump and Louisville-area lawyers Sam Aguiar and Lonita Baker.

Chappell was 23 years old when she died on July 16 at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour.

Her family said she told them in a phone call that she believed she was going to be killed while in custody at Jackson County Jail in Brownstown, Indiana, where she was being held on charges of theft and leading police on a chase down I-65. In other conversations, her family said Chappell sounded healthy and in fine spirits, which is why they were shocked and devastated by her sudden death.

Corrections officers were checking Chappell’s temperature every 15 minutes since she had a high running fever and was throwing up, according to Baker. Corrections officers didn’t take the 23-year-old to the hospital until she was found unresponsive.

Baker said Chapell’s family didn’t know she died at Schneck Medical Center until three hours later.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office requested an autopsy from the Indiana State Police, which was done on Sunday. An ISP spokesperson said the results are not likely to be released for another few days or even weeks. Baker said her team has requested an independent medical examiner to conduct another autopsy.

Chappell’s family appeared with Baker to discuss the case on Thursday.

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“The conditions we describe at the jail are what we call cruel and unusual punishment,” Baker said.

Nearly a week since Chappell died, the family is still distraught over the unexpected loss.

“If Ta’Neasha, you could hear me, I’m trying, I’m sorry,” Ronesha Murrell, Chappell’s sister, said.

Murrell apologized and agonized over not being able to save her sister’s life, but said it is now her mission to get justice.

According to Chappell’s family, said said at one point in jail, she was physically attacked and faced racism.

“I want answers,” Murrell said. “She told me if something happened to her to get to the bottom of it. Our last conversation, she just put on a big front. She didn’t want us to know what all she was going through, but at the beginning, she called so much and said she needed to get out of there.”

Baker said Jackson County Sheriff’s Office investigators told the family Chappell ultimately died from something chemical-related. However, Baker said Chappell had bruises and obvious abuse to her face.

“There are cameras in the jail,” she said. “We have taken steps to make sure the Jackson County Jail is preserving as it relates to surveillance, complaints, grievances, things like that.”

Since taking on this case, Baker said she and her team have interviewed previous Jackson County Jail inmates, all of whom said nothing but negative things about the staff and the conditions they are kept in while locked up.

Chappell’s family said they plan to file criminal charges if evidence calls for it.

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