Orleans sheriff’s deputy resigns after controversy

Officer investigated after photo taken of bloodied cell

An Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy who became the subject of an internal investigation after he snapped a picture of a bloodied cell where an inmate had been stabbed has resigned, the office confirmed Friday.

Bryan Collins went public with his criticisms of the Orleans Parish jail last month, agreeing to let The Times-Picayune identify him and describing himself as a whistleblower. He admitted taking the photo in question with a cellphone and sharing it with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which represents a group of inmates in a lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office, and said he was being investigated for violating a ban on cell phones inside the jail.

The graphic, bloody photo was highly embarrassing to the office, as it seemed to contradict Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s description of the stabbed man’s injuries as “superficial cuts.” Collins said the internal probe targeting him was clearly meant as retaliation for his release of the photo. He said that, at one roll-call lineup, a supervisor promised to identify and punish the “rat” who was responsible.

When he went public with his allegations, Collins said he had been suspended by the Sheriff’s Office, but the office disputed that and said he was welcome to come back to work. Collins told The Times-Picayune he was quitting because he did not trust the administration of the Sheriff’s Office, saying he feared he would be put into “a no-win situation.”

Collins worked for the Sheriff’s Office for four years. He told The Times-Picayune he had filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which looks into complaints of workplace discrimination.

His lawyer, Eric Hessler, did not return calls seeking comment Friday.

In a prepared statement, the Sheriff’s Office disputed Collins’ claims of maltreatment.

“In order to encourage Bryan Collins to return to work, we offered him his same work schedule, his same shift, a different supervisor, and a different building,” the statement said. “There was never any hostile work environment and never any retaliation.”