When Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Sheriff Marlin Gusman announced an agreement to begin funding the federal consent decree at Orleans Parish Prison (OPP), I thought we were finally seeing some progress at the troubled jail.
The Times-Picayune is now reporting that Gusman is investigating the man responsible for helping the TP and the Southern Poverty Law Center expose the countless rapes, stabbings and inhumane conditions inside the jail.
News organizations are loath to reveal confidential sources, but in this case Deputy Bryan Collins has agreed to let the TP identify him. He no longer has anything to lose, and perhaps the light of day will force Gusman to back down.
According to the newspaper, Collins as of last week had not been allowed to report for duty for a week. The paper also reported that Collins has hired a lawyer who took the deputy’s concerns about retaliation to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Based on the TP’s reporting, Collins’ concerns are justified. In fact, the DOJ should expand its probe of Gusman’s office to include retaliation against Collins.
Gusman’s office has confirmed it is pursuing criminal and administrative investigations of Collins for alleged violations of OPP policies. The “violations” include Collins bringing a cellphone into the jail, where he photographed a bloody cell — the scene of a brutal stabbing — and shared it with the newspaper and the law center. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed the original lawsuit against Gusman, which the DOJ later joined. That lawsuit led to the consent decree.
Now, after Collins helped expose the hellish conditions that warranted federal intervention at OPP, he’s being scapegoated by the man responsible for those conditions — because he used his cellphone to blow the whistle. Never mind that scores of prisoners bring cellphones — and a lot worse — into Gusman’s jail.
New Orleans Police Department officers arrested another suspect related to the Mother's Day second line shootings. This afternoon, Monique Pepe, 19, was charged with being an accessory to attempted second degree murder for allegedly hiding 24-year-old Shawn Scott, who was arrested along with his 19-year-old brother Akein Scott. Authorities identified the brothers as the shooters.
Pepe also was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of heroin, and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, according to the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office.
Pepe's arrest brings the number of arrests to seven in connection to the shootings. Yesterday morning, authorities also arrested Justin Alexander, 19, Brandy George, 28, Bionca Hickerson, 22, and Nekia Youngblood, 32, who allegedly helped hide Akein Scott. They all were charged with accessory after the fact to attempted second degree murder and obstruction of justice for harboring a fugitive.
Returning to the intersection of Frenchmen and North Villere streets, city officials and law enforcement announced the capture of second line shooting suspect Akein Scott as well as his brother, 24-year-old Shawn Scott, and four others.
New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Ronal Serpas confirmed Shawn Scott as the second shooting suspect. In 2007, Scott pleaded guilty in possession of cocaine and heroin and was sentenced to five years probation. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute heroin and was to serve an eight year sentence. He was out on parole until December 2015. Like his brother Akein, Scott was charged this morning with 20 counts of second degree attempted murder. (A person was trampled by the crowd following the shooting and has been identified among the victims, hence the 20 counts of attempted second degree murder.)
"Shawn has a lengthy record and has demonstrated his contempt for New Orleans," Serpas said.
Serpas also announced Justin Alexander, 19, Brandy George, 28, Bionca Hickerson, 22, and Nekia Youngblood, 32, allegedly helped hide Akein Scott. They all have been charged with accessory after the fact to attempted second degree murder and obstruction of justice for harboring a fugitive.
Akein Scott, the 19-year-old suspect in the Mother's Day second line shootings, was arrested from a home in the Little Woods neighborhood in eastern New Orleans late last night. He appeared in Orleans Parish Magistrate Court this morning with bail set at $500,000 for each charge — Scott was booked with 20 counts of attempted second degree murder. His bail is set at $10 million.
Scott was scheduled to appear in court today on unrelated charges from an arrest in March, when he was allegedly found with a stolen gun and heroin. He was charged with possession of stolen firearms, possession of heroin and resisting an officer. He was released on bail last month, which Mayor Mitch Landrieu said "was a mistake." Landrieu has requested judges to set bail no lower than $30,000 on gun charges. "Unfortunately, some judges in this building have ignored that request," Landrieu said.
At around 3 a.m. Thursday, Scott was booked with 20 counts of attempted second degree murder.
New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Ronal Serpas said he believes Scott has ties to gang activity, and WWL-TV reports NOPD is searching for a possible second gunman.
A press conference with Landrieu, Serpas and other city officials is set for noon at the corner of N. Villere and Frenchmen streets, where the shooting occurred.
Today is May Day, or International Workers Day. In New Orleans, immigrant workers and their families and supporters plan to march to City Hall to demand better workers' rights and call for an end to deportations.
The Congress of Day Laborers and the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice co-organized the event, which begins with a march at 11:30 a.m. at Armstrong Park. The march meets at the rally at 2:30 p.m. outside City Hall, where participants will call on New Orleans City Council members and Mayor Mitch Landrieu to prevent undocumented workers from being sent to Orleans Parish Prison.
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