New surveillance video from Jackson County Jail shows hours before Ta’Neasha Chappell’s death

At times they show Ta’Neasha Chappell, 23, moaning in agony, calling for help and laying naked in her own waste.
Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 6:25 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - New surveillance video shows the hours just before a female inmate at the Jackson County Jail died after hours of medical distress and pain.

The videos are disturbing. At times they show Ta’Neasha Chappell, 23, moaning in agony, calling for help and laying naked in her own waste.

Since her death on July 16, there have been many questions surrounding its cause. Officials in Jackson County have refused to comment.

Records from the Schneck Medical Center in Seymour state her symptoms were consistent with poisoning from substances like Ethylene Glycol and Methanol, common components in cleaners.

The autopsy, conducted by the Jackson County Coroner, concluded Chappell’s cause of death as “undetermined.” However, they did find toxicity from an unknown substance.

The toxicology report showed minimal traces of marijuana in Chappell’s system and zero traces of any other drug or narcotic.

Her family’s attorney, Sam Aguiar stated Chappell died after more than 24 hours of neglect by jail staff, even as she begged for help and laid on the floor covered in her own waste.

In court documents, the Jackson County Prosecutor acknowledged Chappell had complained of feeling ill since the day before at 4:47 p.m. She told staff she had thrown up blood.

The videos obtained exclusively by WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters are from the cell she was put in hours before her death.

Just before 1:30 p.m., Chappell is seen falling and banging her head on her metal bed. She moans in pain while grabbing her head. According to jail records, the guards went to check on her and did not see any blood. When they reviewed the tape, they determined she “just missed her head.”

The autopsy found she had indeed hit her head based on bruising.

In a span of 24 minutes, Chappell is seen collapsing three times. She is moaning, having difficulty speaking is seen trying to bang on the doors. No one comes to check on her during four of those occasions.

When the jail’s nurse, Ed Rutan comes to her dorm at 2:31 p.m., he tells her to “get dressed and step out for medication.” He comes back two more times.

“Last chance,” Rutan says two minutes later. “You can get dressed and talk to me or I’m going to go and do my thing,” he said.

Chappell is seen struggling to speak or get dressed at that point. No one returns to check on her for another 35 minutes. They tell her to get dressed once again and leave.

“Can’t get you any help until you get dressed,” a guard says. “Can’t be that bad that you can’t get dressed.”

Chappell tells him she was on fire.

When the guard tries to make Chappell stand up, she collapses once again. They leave a uniform on the room and step out.

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

Chappell would flatline, one hour after that comment.

Records show an ambulance arrived at 3:29 p.m. She is seen trying to put on a blanket as if it were an article of clothing. A guard tells her it’s a blanket she is trying to put on and that her clothes are on the floor. The guards do not help her get up or get dressed as Chappell continues to moan.

According to EMS documents, Chappell could only respond by nodding her head and indicated she had pain in her abdomen. Her eyes and chest were yellow, they note. She was still handcuffed to the stretcher.

They arrive to the Schneck Medical Center, which is almost 11 miles away, 16 minutes later. According to Aguiar, they did not turn their lights or sirens on.

Once at the hospital and on IV, medical staff noticed she had shallow breathing. At 4:35 p.m., the records state Chappell was unresponsive. At that point, Chappell went into cardiac arrest and the staff began giving her CPR.

The doctor arrived to her room at 4:50 p.m. and incubated Chappell. She was stabilized, but only for a moment. By 5:30 p.m. her blood pressure reached critical levels, the documents state. Two minutes later, Chappell’s life ended.

There are allegations, based on Chappell’s previous recorded conversations from the jail with her family, that she was being targeted for being one of very few black inmates housed at the jail. She tells them she was jumped by other inmates, though jail documents do not indicate Chappell had been involved in a fight, Aguiar said.

Officials at the jail, Jackson County, and Indiana State Police have repeatedly declined to answer questions or release any video associated with her case. The videos were obtained by Aguiar, who submitted subpoenas to obtain them after he too was declined access.

Jackson County Prosecutors Jeffrey A. Chafflant declined prosecution. In an official document, he stated he did not believe there were violations of state law.

Four and half pages of the 15-page document were devoted to explaining the charges Chappell was in the jail for.

Chappell faced theft related charges and for taking police on a chase that crossed state lines.

The timeline of events within the jail is less than two pages long.

Chafflant concluded Chappell had received medical assistance and that she been checked on several times. There was no evidence anyone had poisoned Chappell, or conclusive findings in her blood that showed traces of anti-freeze.

The investigation into her death was conducted by ISP, which included interviews of inmates and jail staff.

The state case into her death is now closed.

WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters have reached out to the FBI, to ask if they are investigating the case for possible civil rights violations. They would not confirm or deny.

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