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NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune EXCLUSIVE: OPP whistleblower speaks out

Naomi Martin, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Natasha Robin, FOX 8

NEW ORLEANS - The actions of Orleans Parish Sheriff's Deputy Bryan Collins are described by some as heroic, after he helped expose rapes, stabbings and poor conditions at Orleans Parish Prison.

Collins secretly provided information to the Southern Poverty Law Center for a civil rights lawsuit that led to a federal consent decree.

"The horrendous conditions - not just the physical building, but the inhumane treatment of the inmates began to affect me," Collins told NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune reporter Naomi Martin. "It was stated openly in roll call with other deputies that whoever did this would pay.

"I decided to do what I felt the public would want someone in my position to do and what I knew the victims of this violence and their families and the general public deserve to have done. That was my primary reason for getting involved."

In June, Collins was on duty when inmate Edward Dean stabbed fellow inmate Brian Ellis 20 times in his cell.

Collins sent NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune a photo of Ellis' bloody cell after the paper says the Sheriff's Office characterized the attack as "superficial."

"When Gusman, the sheriff, came out with his statements that were absolutely contrary to the facts, I felt compelled to show the public the aftermath and let them in their minds identify with the scene and collaborate that with the statements, and they just didn't match," Collins said.

Collins said he began witnessing inhumane incidents at the jail in his first week on the job.

"I can remember one of the incidents that just resonates with me. An older gentleman - had to be 60 or 65 - needed to use the restroom," Collins said.

Collins became emotional as he talked about the elderly inmate, who had been repeatedly denied permission to use the bathroom facilities.

"This old man, who asked to simply use the restroom, had defecated in his hands, and he's standing there apologizing to me because he couldn't hold his own bowel," Collins said. "It's something that he should have never be required to do, and that stuck with me. It galvanized early on with my experience here that this particular Sheriff's Department is conducting itself in an unlawful, immoral and unethical manner."

Sheriff's Office officials deny that Collins has been suspended or instructed to leave his job. Instead, they say that after five consecutive days of unexcused absences, they have begun the process of removing him from the OPSO payroll.

Collins is being investigated for introducing contraband into the jail, after he used his cell phone to take the picture of the inmate's cell after the stabbing. The Sheriff's Office says it will present all evidence to the district attorney.


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