Releasing video of final hours of Jerod Draper's life was difficult but necessary

·2 min read

Releasing video that shows the final hours of Jerod Draper’s life in an Indiana jail was a necessary choice.

Difficult but necessary.

We at IndyStar understand what is being asked of the viewer as they evaluate the grainy surveillance video from the camera stationed on the upper wall of a Harrison County medical isolation cell.

Jerod is dying. But why? How did it happen, and what and who is responsible for his death? We asked experts outside the case to judge it and provide their opinion. We also provided their concerns to the local prosecutor in Harrison County, who described why he did not pursue criminal charges. If you view the video, you will make your own determination of what you see.

But if IndyStar chose to not show it, we would remove your ability to better determine for yourself.

Jerod Draper, in an undated family photo, died inside Harrison County’s jail in 2018 after being strapped to a chair and hit by a stun gun six times.
Jerod Draper, in an undated family photo, died inside Harrison County’s jail in 2018 after being strapped to a chair and hit by a stun gun six times.

Journalism often introduces us to concepts we are unfamiliar with and asks hard questions for the audience to consider. It breaks through barriers and exposes things authority doesn’t want us to see. It takes us to places many of us will never go.

In Harrison County, in that jail, in that cell, for those eight trauma-filled, claustrophobic hours caught on surveillance cameras in October 2018 was an event that needs to be shown to the public so we can better understand what happened.

Because something happened there.

What it was … standard procedure, a lack of compliance, a lack of medical care, a lack of humanity, a criminal act? … we want tactful people to see it and consider for themselves.

It's uncomfortable to see what's going on in the room, even in the version we discretely edited for length and content. That's especially so when you consider what was going on inside Jerod Draper's body and mind as his bare feet are stomped, his pressure points are prodded, he is Tased multiple times, and he loudly pleads for the pain to stop.

When we asked ourselves at IndyStar how we should use the video and how much, if any, the public should see, what civil rights attorney Jon Little told reporters Tim Evans and Ryan Martin kept coming to mind.

Little was incensed after watching the unedited footage, cursing as he described what he viewed and how he considered the actions of the jail staff and nurse.

"Everybody needs to watch it," he said.

We think he's right.

Bro Krift is interim executive editor at IndyStar. Contact him at bro.krift@indystar.com.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Why IndyStar releasing video of Jerod Draper in jail, being Tased

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