Coroner: Kindra Chapman committed suicide by hanging — (The Birmingham News)

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The Birmingham News

By Carol Robinson | The Birmingham News

on July 27, 2015 at 10:32 AM, updated July 27, 2015 at 11:52 AM

Kindra Chapman’s grandmother still has questions about her death

The death of 18-year-old Kindra Chapman has officially been ruled a suicide, authorities announced today.

The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office said the 98-pound teen died from “asphyxia by hanging,” said Chief Deputy Coroner Bill Yates. The manner of death is suicide.

According to the autopsy report released this morning, the toxicology screen detected benzodiazepines and tricyclic antidepressants in urine analysis. Diphenhydramine was detected in the blood. Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine that can a false positive for antidepressants.

The autopsy found superficial abrasions on her left hand and right shin, and a contusion on her scalp. Those injuries, the report said, did not cause or contribute to Chapman’s death.

Chapman was booked into the Homewood City Jail at 6:22 p.m. July 14 on a first-degree robbery charge. Sgt. Andrew Didcoct said Chapman robbed another person of a cell phone in the 1600 block of Lakeshore Court. Jailers last saw her alive at 6:30 p.m. She was found unresponsive at 7:50 p.m. Authorities said she used a bed sheet to hang herself.

Chapman was taken to Brookwood Medical Center where she was pronounced dead. Authorities have told Chapman was arrested a couple of months ago after she was caught in a nearby apartment complex checking car doors. She tried to kick out the back window of a patrol car and also had marijuana on her. Police had also dealt with her the day before her death, but no arrest was made.

Lawyers for Chapman’s mother released this statement on July 23: “We are so grateful for the outpouring of support for Kindra. We are devastated that she is gone, and we miss her terribly,” according to a family statement released to from the Birmingham law firm of Marsh, Rickard and Bryan. “We want the world to know what a wonderful soul she was. At the same time, we want the world to know that her death was a suicide. We have hired lawyers to investigate how this could have happened while she was in police custody.”

Jefferson County District Attorney Brandon Falls also has released a statement about Chapman’s death, saying: “At this time, I have seen no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing in the arrest and detention of Kindra Chapman, and I believe that her death is the result of a suicide,” Falls said.

Homewood police on Saturday released 72 seconds of jail surveillance footage of Chapman being escorted into the lockup by a patrol officer. The portion of the video released on the department’s Facebook page shows Chapman in handcuffs getting out of a police car and walking into the police station. Police officials said today the entire video shows the teen going through the full booking process, being led to her cell and, finally, taking her own life. “Out of respect for Ms. Chapman and her family, the Homewood Police Department is not making the final minutes of the video public.” on Sunday made a formal request to view and obtain the video in its entirety to Homewood police Chief Jim Roberson, Homewood Mayor Scott McBrayer and Falls. Roberson and Falls declined the request. McBrayer has not yet responded.

Police officials said the entire video was shown to the legal counsel representing Chapman’s biological mother, Kathy Brady. She released her statement through attorneys a short time later.

Family members on Chapman’s father’s side of the family said they don’t believe Chapman killed herself. Nearly 100 people gathered in Homewood Central Park Sunday evening to light candles in remembrance of Chapman.

Linda Chapman, Chapman’s paternal grandmother, began to break down while speaking to media after the vigil. She doesn’t believe her granddaughter would have committed suicide. “If she was noisy in there, they should have seen about her. I just don’t believe it,” Linda Chapman said, questioning why police weren’t more aware of Chapman’s actions. “I just want to see the video, and then I will have rest. But it seems like a lie.”

Falls said today the investigation is ongoing but said he determined that there was probable cause for her arrest and custody. “We have received the reports from the officers on duty the evening of her death as well as the reports of the investigating detective. We have also received the statement of a witness who was in the custody of Homewood Police that same evening,” Falls said in a statement. “Most importantly, we have received the video surveillance recordings from several cameras in and around the Homewood City Jail.”

Falls has said there is no evidence that Chapman received any injury when she was taken into custody or when she was transported to the jail. “Neither the video recordings of her entering the jail, nor the video recordings of her at the time of booking, indicate that she had any injuries,” he said. “Throughout the entire process, she appeared to be able to move and function on her own.”

After booking, officers with the Homewood Police Department placed Chapman in a jail cell. Officers were in the process of transporting several inmates from the Homewood City jail to the Homewood Municipal Court for court hearings. During that process, Chapman was left alone in the cell. While in the cell, the video shows that she appeared to be agitated, and she attempted to damage the contents of the cell. She knocked over a water cooler, took a bed sheet, and stood on the cooler to tie the bed sheet to a wall support rail extending from the ceiling. She then used the sheet to commit suicide, Falls said.

Shortly thereafter, officers were returning another inmate from court to the same cell. They discovered Chapman in the cell and immediately began efforts to resuscitate her on floor in the cell. According to the statement made by another inmate, the officers did everything they could for Chapman. Emergency medical services were contacted, and Chapman was transported to Brookwood hospital where she was pronounced deceased. “The preliminary investigation of the coroner’s office has determined that Ms. Chapman’s only injury is consistent with a self-inflicted death,” Falls said.