INDIANAPOLIS — Newly released documents show the Marion County Sheriff’s Office failed to follow their own internal policies leading to the death of deputy John Durm during an escape attempt last month.
This week CBS4 was sent a copy of the office’s General Orders and guidance regarding inmate transports.
Court records show Deputy Durm was alone when he escorted his accused killer to Eskenazi Hospital for a medical appointment on Monday, July 10.
Stepping out of a jail transport van in the sally port of the Criminal Justice Campus, court records claim Orlando Mitchell immediately wrapped his handcuff chain around the neck of the lone deputy transporting him back to jail from the medical visit.
The pair allegedly struggled on the ground for a couple of minutes. with no one around to help save Deputy John Durm from having his neck broken. Police say Mitchell then crashed the transport van trying to escape.
It’s not clear why Deputy Durm was the only deputy involved in transporting Mitchell, but the Marion County Sheriff’s Office policy spells out in black and white the number of deputies required to safely transport inmates.
The policy reads, “Escorts shall be accomplished utilizing either two or one deputies, dependent upon the type of transport and custody level of the inmate.”
That policy then clearly states, “Transports such as a non-emergency transport to Eskenazi hospital, shall utilize two (2) jail deputies.”
In addition to two deputies being required for medical trips to Eskenazi, the policy also states, “High-risk transports shall entail a transport team comprised of at least two CERT members.”
Mitchell, of course, showed a history of high-risk behavior after he allegedly killed the mother of his child outside a daycare last year.
Following that shooting, Mitchell was arrested during an officer-involved shooting downtown. Mitchell was being held in jail on that pending murder charge.
Last month the sheriff said it is not his policy to escort murder suspects out of jail with only one deputy and admitted staffing issues may have played a role in the fatal transport.
“We don’t want somebody leaving the jail charged with murder with only one deputy, but is there times we do more with less staff and make tough decisions? Yeah probably,” Marion Co. Sheriff Kerry Forestal said on July 13. “We’ve reviewed it now, anytime we may make an error, we’ll review it and make changes.”
The sheriff was not willing to talk Friday about the apparent policy failures leading to Deputy Durm’s death, but his office did send a statement that read:
“While the tragic death of Fallen Deputy John Durm is still under internal investigation by the MCSO, immediate remedial steps have been taken to ensure all agency procedures are operating accordingly.
In the three weeks since the investigation launched, dozens of individuals have been interviewed. Many hours of camera footage have been reviewed for an incident that lasted approximately ten minutes. We are continuing to work tirelessly each day to conduct a comprehensive and impartial investigation so that we may not only determine the facts of this case, but also ensure the safety of all MCSO employees and prevent the recurrence of such a tragedy.
We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the members of the media for their support and patience as we continue to navigate through this difficult time. A complete and thorough report of the incident will be coming in the next few weeks, and we will keep the public informed of any developments that arise from the investigation.”Marion County Sheriff’s Office