Inmate used chain from handcuffs to strangle Indiana deputy during escape attempt, officials say

Jul 11, 2023, 12:58 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A jail inmate accused of killing a sheriff’s deputy who was transporting him in a van used the chain of his handcuffs to choke the officer during an escape attempt in Indianapolis, according to court documents released Tuesday.

Marion County Sheriff’s Deputy John Durm, 61, died Monday at a hospital following the attack, which Indianapolis police are investigating as an “intentional act of homicide,” Officer Shane Foley said.

Durm’s cause of death was “ligature strangulation” and has been ruled a homicide, the county coroner’s office announced Tuesday. Durm, a 38-year veteran of the sheriff’s department, was married with four children.

Police said inmate Orlando Mitchell, 34, assaulted Durm on Monday while the van was inside the sally port, or fortified entrance, of the Adult Detention Center on the city’s south side.

Mitchell has not been charged in Durm’s death, and the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office said Tuesday that a charging decision was not expected “prior to Thursday afternoon at the very earliest.”

But a probable cause affidavit released Tuesday states that video shows Durm arriving at the detention center about 11:30 a.m. Monday in a Marion County Sheriff’s Office van after returning from taking Mitchell to a hospital visit.

The video shows Durm exit the van and open its rear door, at which point Mitchell opened the van’s inner door and is seen raising his hands above Durm’s head and placing them around Durm’s neck, according to the affidavit.

“Mitchell then uses the chain linking his handcuffs to choke Deputy Durm,” it states, adding that while Durm tried to get the chain off of his neck, both he and Mitchell fell to the ground.

“Mitchell stays on top of Durm, continuing to choke him until Durm quits moving,” the affidavit states.

Mitchell then found Durm’s handcuff key, unlocked his handcuffs, got into the van, backed it up and exited the sally port of the detention center while smashing into a gate, officials said. He then drove the van a short distance and crashed into a wooden pole before other deputies returned him to custody.

Mitchell has been jailed since September 2022 awaiting trial for the killing of his ex-girlfriend, Krystal Walton. A telephone message seeking comment was left Tuesday for an attorney representing Mitchell in that case.

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Inmate used chain from handcuffs to strangle Indiana deputy during escape attempt, officials say