The family of a woman who recently died in police custody has retained the services of the attorneys who represented the family of Breonna Taylor.
It was the latest development in the questionable circumstances under which Ta’Neasha Chappell, a 23-year-old mother from Louisville, died Friday after spending more than a month in an Indiana jail.
Chappell, who was being held for charges from an alleged robbery and high-speed chase, was taken to a local hospital on Friday. But it was unclear how she died and her family is demanding answers.
Sam Aguiar, a Louisville-based attorney who was part of the legal team that helped secure Taylor’s family a record police settlement, announced Wednesday on Facebook that he, another Louisville lawyer Lonita Baker and civil rights attorney Ben Crump were all working on Chappell’s case.
“Our team has been given the privilege of seeking truth and justice for the family of Ta’Neasha Chappell,” Aguiar wrote. “More to come ASAP.”
Hours later, the lawyers issued a joint statement that compared Chappell’s death to Sandra Bland, the motorist who was found dead in a Texas jail following a violent arrest for a nonviolent moving violation in 2015. They described a situation that suggests malfeasance at worse and ineptitude at best with law enforcement in Jackson County, Indiana.
“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,” the lawyers said in a brief statement e-mailed to NewsOne. “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 lawyers added: “What happened to Ta’Neasha Chappell?”
Chappell was having problems with other inmates in the jail, her sister told the Louisville Courier-Journal. Ronesha Murrell said Chappell feared for her life and claimed a noose was left in her bed. Murrell said efforts to contact the jail about those claims went unreturned.
Despite those claims, Murrell said Chappell was in good spirits when they last spoke about two weeks before her death.
Chappell was being held on $4,000 cash bail since late May. Her attorney’s request for bail to be lowered was denied on July 8.
Police have not offered details and are accused of not alerting Chappell’s family of her death until more than two hours after it happened.
“We don’t anticipate any further statements until investigators receive the autopsy and toxicology results, which typically takes several days or longer,” a spokesman for Indiana State Police said.
A GoFundMe account has been started to help pay for Chappell’s funeral and supp[ort her daughter.
“We are all devastated by her loss but are working tirelessly to figure out the events that transpired moments before her passing,” the online fundraising effort said in part.
As of Thursday morning, the GoFundMe had raised more than $4,600 of its $13,000 goal.
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