INDIANAPOLIS — The Marion County Sheriff's Office is reviewing its policies as part of its investigation into the death of Deputy John Durm, who was killed by an inmate trying to escape.
"In the three weeks since the investigation launched, dozens of individuals have been interviewed," the Marion County Sheriff's Office said in an email. "Many hours of camera footage have been reviewed for an incident that lasted approximately ten minutes."
Orlando Mitchell was handcuffed and secured with a body chain restraint when prosecutors say he choked Durm to death at the Adult Detention Center on July 10.
Durm was returning Mitchell to the facility after a medical visit when the inmate attacked him in a secure garage area, prosecutors say.
Following his death, questions regarding the policies and procedures for transporting violent criminals started to emerge.
"We don't want someone leaving the jail charged with one deputy. Is there times that we do more with less staff than we do and people make tough decisions yeah probably," said Sheriff Kerry Forestal in a press conference on July 13th. "We've reviewed it now as any time we may make an error, we will review it and make changes but that's being investigated by this time by internal affairs to see what we could have done better."
The Marion County Sheriff's Office Jail Division Policies and Procedures outline the number of deputies need for escorting inmates.
"Escorts shall be accomplished utilizing either two or one deputies, dependent upon the type of transport and custody level of the inmate. Escorting deputies shall be armed. Transport staff shall carry an issue radio at all times during any escort detail. A supervisor may approve one transport staff member to escort an inmate who presents a minimal escape or management risk. High risk transports shall entail a transport team comprised of at least two CERT members. Transports such as a non-emergency transport to Eskenazi Hospital, shall utilize two jail deputies."
The department said it is conducting 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."
The office did not say whether it believes Durm followed the department's policies when he was transporting the murder suspect who allegedly attacked and killed him, although documents show two jail deputies would have been required for the transport.
WRTV also went through more than a hundred documents of the sheriff's General Order on transporting inmates. Inside the order it states "all prisoners shall be handcuffed behind their back as soon as possible with the handcuffs double locked."
There are expectations in some cases, which are outlined in the order.
Mitchell was not cuffed behind his back. Instead, he was restrained in handcuffs and a body chain, according to reports. The sheriff's General Order on transporting prisoners does not spell out department policy for body chains.
WRTV asked a sheriff's office spokesperson if there is another policy that covers the use of handcuffs and body chains on prisoners, but the office declined further comment.
In several email messages, WRTV asked questions about the investigation into Durm's death, department policies and any changes that might be made. The office did not answer those questions in their response.
Instead, the office emailed a statement that read in part: "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."
According to a probable cause affidavit, video of the incident that shows Durm walk around a transport van to let Mitchell out. The video shows Durm open the door and Mitchell stepping behind the deputy before raising his hands over Durm's head and choking him with the chain. They fall to the ground and Mitchell continues choking "until Durm quits moving," according to the documents.
Mitchell took the deputy's keys, removed his handcuffs and took off in the van, according to the reports. He crashed not far from the detention center in the 3000 block of Prospect Street and was taken into custody.
Mitchell, who was already facing a charge of murder in the death of his ex-girlfriend Krystal Walton in September 2022, will now face the death penalty.
Below is the entire statement provided by the Marion County Sheriff's Office:
“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."
More: 'Another tragic loss' MCSO deputy killed in assault during escape attempt outside Criminal Justice Center | Services honor fallen deputy John Durm | Prosecutor seeking death penalty against man accused of killing Deputy John Durm
Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at email@example.com or on Twitter: @vicryc; WRTV reporter Rachael Wilkerson at firstname.lastname@example.org.