Marion County Sheriff's Office released video of Deputy Durm's death
by: Mike Coutee
Posted: Aug 30, 2023 / 09:51 AM EDT
Updated: Aug 30, 2023 / 09:06 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office released the video showing Deputy John Durm’s death that occurred in July. The deputy was killed during an escape attempt.
In addition to releasing the video to the media and the public, the sheriff’s office outlined recent policy changes and provided an update on the two deputies fired due to their “job performance” on the day Durm was killed.
This was the first time Durm’s critical incident video was shown to the public. The videos released provided a timeline of the events that led to the death of the fallen deputy.
While the sheriff admits there were policy failures in this case, he believes the responsibility for the death ultimately lies with the accused killer.
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At 9:03 in the morning, Deputy John Durm places murder suspect Orlando Mitchell in handcuffs and shackles.
Mitchell is then loaded into the back of a transport van at 9:05.
After a few minutes, at 9:09, the pair drive out of the criminal justice campus.
Nearly two hours later, at 10:56, Mitchell finishes a medical appointment and leaves Eskenazi with handcuffs and a belly chain secured.
At 11:15, tragedy ensued when Mitchell stepped out of the transport van after being returned to jail and immediately wrapped his handcuff chain, which he had somehow slipped off, around Deputy Durm’s neck.
The pair struggled for nearly two minutes before Deputy Durm’s neck was broken.
A Cumberland police officer walks up and notices Mitchell driving away in the transport van and calls for help.
Sheriff Kerry Forestal admits chronic understaffing played a role in those events.
“Less manpower leads to deputies taking on more responsibility, which leads to more risk and can lead to tragedy,” said Sheriff Kerry Forestal.
According to previous reports, MCSO officials said at the time, Durm was killed by 34-year-old Orlando Mitchell, a Marion County Jail inmate, while returning from a hospital visit.
After fleeing in the van, Mitchell crashed the vehicle moments later in the 3000 block of Prospect Street during an escape attempt.
Previous reports revealed that Durm arrived at the sally port in the van and walked around the van to let Mitchell out. Officials said at the time, “Mitchell then stepped behind Durm, (raised) his hands above Durm’s head and (placed) them around Durm’s neck,” using the chain linking Mitchell’s handcuffs to choke Durm.
Documents released earlier this month show the sheriff’s office failed to follow its own internal policies of using two deputies to transport murder suspects to medical appointments.
The sheriff says those policies are now being followed.
“I want to ensure we are taking the necessary steps to eliminate any opportunities for those who wish to harm our staff,” said Forestal.
While two deputies were terminated for sub-standard performance and two other supervisors were demoted, the sheriff still pins the blame for the death squarely on Orlando Mitchell.
“It wasn’t understaffing that killed John Durm. It wasn’t faulty equipment. It was Orlando Mitchell,” said Forestal.
The sheriff says his office is short 75 deputies as well as 75 detention deputies. He did not provide a plan to fill those vacancies.
In addition to requiring two deputies to transport inmates, the sheriff says all off-site medical services will now be authorized by a jail physician.
Vans entering the sally port will identify the number of prisoners on board and processing will meet the driver upon arrival.
A heart defibrillator has also been placed in the sally port of the jail.
All deputies are also retraining on the use of belly chains.
Mitchell’s next court appearance is set for Sept. 8.
Jesse Wells contributed to this report.
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