Death of Jackson County inmate ruled undetermined, Jackson County Sheriff’s Dept. employees cleared of any wrongdoing

JACKSON CO. – Jackson County Prosecutor Jeff Chalfant released his findings following the review of a five-month investigation by detectives with the Indiana State Police-Versailles Post into the death of Ta’Neasha Chappell, who was an inmate housed in the Jackson County Jail.

Ta’Neasha Chappell

Chappell, 23, of Louisville, KY., an inmate who became ill while in the care of the Jackson County Jail this summer died on July 16, 2021, at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, where she had been taken after becoming ill the day before while housed at the jail in Brownstown.

 Chappell was arrested by the Indiana State Police on May 26, 2021, and transported to the Jackson County Jail. She was arrested after stealing numerous items at the Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store at the Premium Outlet Mall near Edinburgh, Indiana.  Chappell then fled from troopers  Chappell was pursued south on I-65 through Jackson, Scott, and Clark Counties with speeds reaching more than 100 miles per hour.  Troopers from the Indiana State Police-Sellersburg Post along with numerous other agencies assisted in the pursuit. At one point during the pursuit, Chappell’s vehicle collided with the rear of a commercial motor vehicle.  Chappell’s vehicle eventually left the roadway at exit 7 on I-65 near Clarksville, Indiana, where it came to a stop after being badly damaged.  Chappell exited the vehicle and attempted to flee on foot.  She was soon taken into custody after being tased.  Numerous suspected stolen items, valued at more than $3,000 were located in the vehicle.  Police also found marijuana in her possession.  Chappell was transported to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, for medical clearance and to submit a chemical test for intoxication.  

Ta’Neasha Chappell the day of her arrest

Chappell was then incarcerated at the Jackson County Jail on numerous felony and misdemeanor charges related to resisting law enforcement.  On July 16, she was taken by ambulance to Schneck Memorial Hospital in Seymour, where she later died.

 On Saturday, July 17, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department contacted investigators from the ISP Versailles post and requested detectives conduct a death investigation.  As part of that investigation, an autopsy was performed Sunday, July 18, 2021.  

Jackson County Prosecutor Jeff Chalfant issued that finding from the investigation into the death of Ta’Neasha Chappell late Friday afternoon.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jeff Chalfant

Chalfant said the results of the autopsy showed the manner of Chappell’s death is undetermined. He said manners of death can be determined as natural, homicide, suicide, accidental or undetermined. Chalfant said the autopsy was clear Chappell did not die of any inflicted injury, such as puncture wounds, asphyxiation, or blunt-force trauma.

The investigation did determine Chappell had old gunshot wounds, but those predated her being jailed in Jackson County.

Jackson County Sheriff Rick Meyer

On Friday night, Sheriff Rick Meyer released a statement.

“We appreciate the patience of the public while the investigation into the death of Ms. Chappell was ongoing,” he said. “We have to this point declined to comment to avoid any interference with the work of the Indiana State Police. The sheriff’s department cooperated fully with the Indiana State Police and the prosecutor’s investigation.”

Meyer said the results of the investigation found Chappell was not denied medical care and that efforts were made by jail personnel to address her claimed medical needs. Investigators determined no sheriff’s department personnel were involved in the intentional, knowing, or reckless mistreatment of Chappell.

“We thank the state police for their work and the public for their patience as the investigation was completed,” Meyer said. “We extend our sympathies to Ms. Chappell’s family.”

Chappell wrote the following concluding his report, “Miss Chappell was not denied medical care,” he said. “Whether a person or entity had a duty of reasonable care toward a person and if that care was sufficient or a breach of that duty of reasonable care are matters of civil law and not criminal law.

“What is clear is that efforts were made by Jackson County Jail personnel to address the claimed medical needs of Miss Chappell, and the timing of the application of medical care or misappreciation of the seriousness of the medical circumstances of Miss Chappell, if applicable, is not ‘reckless’ conduct toward Miss Chappell, and therefore, her death was not the result of a reckless homicide,” he said.

“The Office of the Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney finds that no crimes were committed by inmates or employees of the Jackson County Jail related to the death of Ta’Neasha Chappell. As stated previously, the focus of this review is whether any crimes were committed by inmates or employees of the Jackson County Jail during the time leading up to the death of Ta’Neasha Chappell. This report makes no findings and no conclusions about the standard of
care provided by employees of the Jackson County Jail.”

Chalfant said jail employees do provide inmates with cleaning products for cleaning their cells and common areas. State police collected a sample of the cleaning agent and spoke with doctors and chemists, who said the cleaning agent would not cause death.

In October 2021, Chappell’s family filed a $30 million lawsuit against Meyer and eight jail staffers in connection with her care leading up to the time of her death. Attorney Sam Aguiar of Louisville filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on behalf of LaVita McClain, who is Chappell’s mother.