Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office waffles on whether inmate escaped or was mistakenly released

Reedell Parker
Reedell Parker

An Orleans Parish inmate was back in custody after escaping from the booking center — or maybe he was let go accidentally, depending on conflicting Sheriff’s Office accounts.

Either way, Reedell Parker, 20, left the sheriff’s intake and processing center this week after his arrest Tuesday on a charge of domestic abuse battery.

Parker allegedly accused his ex-girlfriend of cheating, then tried to strangle her, “interrupting her breathing, three separate times” during a fight on Monday, according to a Sheriff’s Office arrest report. The woman did not lose consciousness.

According to Municipal Court records, he pleaded not guilty on Wednesday and a judge set a $2,500 surety bond.

What he was doing in the booking center after that was uncertain. So was the reason he left, and exactly when. A report on the incident says the escape occurred Thursday at 10 a.m. and that sheriff’s Col. Michael Laughlin, who commands the Special Operations Division, sent detectives out to find him that day.

According to the report, Parker “made good on his escape from the facility.” Yet, despite Parker’s arrest by a sheriff’s detective on a simple escape count, Sheriff Marlin Gusman offered another explanation in a statement sent to The Advocate on Friday. Gusman said Parker was “mistakenly released” on Wednesday.

Citing an ongoing investigation, Gusman spokesman Phil Stelly declined to explain the discrepancies or describe the mistake, but he reiterated that it was a Sheriff’s Office gaffe that sent Parker home.

“It’s what we call a bad release,” Stelly said. “It was a mistake and we’re investigating the matter.” He would only say that escape “was the available charge.”

Sheriff’s deputies found Parker on Thursday at home in the 7400 block of Weaver Street in New Orleans East. According to the report, a deputy announced himself and Parker ran out the back before his arrest following a short chase.

Parker was booked Thursday with simple escape and flight from an officer, as well as violating a protective order. How he violated the order was not apparent from court records. But the woman he allegedly choked said Parker had called her numerous times from jail but never tried to reach her after he got out. The Advocate does not name alleged victims of domestic violence.

On Friday, Magistrate Judge Gerard Hansen set a $10,000 bond for Parker in the escape case.

Parker is due back in court in that case on Sept. 10. A trial in the domestic abuse case is scheduled two days later in Municipal Court.

The police report says Parker has “a history of undocumented domestic violence.” He also has a history of running, having escaped juvenile supervision in Jefferson Parish in 2010 and having fled an officer.

As of late Friday, Parker remained behind bars.