Two Marion County Sheriff’s Deputies fired for ‘performance’ on day fellow deputy was killed by inmate

INDIANAPOLIS — Two Marion County Sheriff’s Deputies have been fired for their “job performance” on the day that Deputy John Durm was strangled to death by an inmate during an escape attempt.

A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said the deputies were fired this past week and added that the overall investigation has not been completed.

Law enforcement sources tell FOX 59 the sheriff’s office command staff held a review of what happened that day. During that review, a deputy said they heard the yelling and commotion of the struggle between Deputy Durm and his alleged attacker but did not investigate it.

According to previous reports, an inmate, identified by police as 34-year-old Orlando Mitchell, was returning from a hospital visit when he allegedly attacked Durm inside a detention center’s sally port and gained control of a van. After fleeing in the van, the suspect crashed the vehicle in the 3000 block of Prospect Street.

Deputy John Durm

According to an affidavit for probable cause, officials said that the incident was captured on video.

The video showed that Durm arrived at the sally port in the van and walked around the van to let Mitchell out. The affidavit reads that Mitchell stepped behind Durm, alleging that he “(raised) his hands above Durm’s head and (placed) them around Durm’s neck,” using the chain linking Mitchell’s handcuffs to choke Durm.

The affidavit indicated that both Mitchell and Durm fell to the ground during the exchange, with Mitchell continuing to choke Durm “until Durm quits moving.”

While the sheriff’s office did not say if the firings were specifically related to the escape attempt and killing of Deputy Durm, FOX59 has previously uncovered documents showing that the sheriff’s office failed to follow their own internal policies that day.

Court records show Deputy Durm was alone when he escorted his accused killer to Eskenazi Hospital for a medical appointment on July 10.

It’s not clear why Deputy Durm was the only official involved with transporting Mitchell, but the Marion County Sheriff’s Office policy does specify 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 showed a history of high-risk behavior after he allegedly killed the mother of his child outside a daycare last year. 

Orlando Mitchell is escorted in for an initial court hearing Friday, July 14, 2023.

Following that shooting, Mitchell was arrested during an officer-involved shooting downtown.  Mitchell was being held in jail on that pending murder charge.

In July, Marion County Sheriff Kerry Forestal 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,” Forestal said on July 13. “We’ve reviewed it now, anytime we may make an error, we’ll review it and make changes.”

The Marion County Prosecutor’s office filed murder charges against Mitchell and is seeking the death penalty.

Russ McQuaid and Jesse Wells contributed to this report

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