By: Alyssa Wilson
WARNING: This story contains details some may find distressing. Viewer discretion is advised.
Detectives with Indiana State Police are investigating what caused the death of Ta’Nesha Chappell in police custody.
The 23-year-old from Louisville, Kentucky was in custody at the Jackson County Jail in Indiana after being arrested for allegedly shoplifting on May 26, Newsweek reported. On July 16, she was transported to Schneck Memorial Hospital in Seymour, where she died.
The cause of death or circumstances around how she died have not been released as detectives continue their investigation. An autopsy was performed on July 18, but the report and toxicology results are still pending.
Chappell’s mother Lavita McCain said her daughter was in good health when she spoke to her on July 15, but she did indicate her daughter was having problems with other people incarcerated at the facility. “She called numerous times— over and over saying that ‘they are going to kill me. Get me out of here,'” she said.
Chappell is survived by her 10-year-old daughter, according to a GoFundMe raising money for funeral expenses. “She was a loving mother, sister, daughter, and a friend who touched the lives of many around her,” the description read. “We are all devastated by her loss but are working tirelessly to figure out the events that transpired moments before her passing.”
Sam Aguiar, who is representing Chappell’s family, is working with Louisville lawyer Lonita Baker and civil rights attorney Ben Crump. Together, the three of them secured a $12 million settlement from the city of Lousiville for the family of Breonna Taylor, shot and killed by Louisville Metro Police. “Our team has been given the privilege of seeking truth and justice for the family of Ta’Neasha Chappell,” he announced.
According to the Courier-Journal, Baker alleged the jail where Chappell was held had awful conditions. “It was so bad that Ta’Neasha called her family and let them know, ‘Please get me out of here. If I can’t get out, I’m going to die here,'” she said. “Unfortunately, her greatest fear happened.”
Baker said Chappell began to get sick on July 15, when she started vomiting and had a fever so severe staff at the facility began checking her temperature every 15 minutes. EMS was not called until Chappell was found unresponsive nearly 24 hours later.
Staff told her family they believe her death was “something chemical,” but the family said that did not explain the bruising on Chappell’s face. “Ta’Neasha didn’t have a chance. Release the video. Explain why she was left in her cell for 24 hours while vomiting and fighting a spiking fever,” Aguiar wrote on Facebook. “Explain the facial injuries. What happened to Ta’Neasha Chappell?”
If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by this story, resources are available here.