Family of deceased inmate still waits for justice 10 years later

Family of Deceased Inmate Still Waits for Justice 10 Years later

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - She lost her father more than 10 years ago, after he was taken to Orleans parish prison for a misdemeanor.

And in spite of a court ruling which attempted to ease her financial discomfort, there's still no justice for the survivors of Kerry Washington.

It's been more than a decade since Kerri Washington saw her dad.

"He's still in my heart. I look like him and act like him, and he's not physically there," said Kerri Washington.

Her father, also named Kerry but with a 'Y', died in Orleans Parish Prison's house of detention, hours after being locked up on an outstanding marijuana charge, something which wouldn't happen today, due to new laws.

"He went to jail for a misdemeanor and he wasn't in there for a long time before this happened," said Kerri.

Washington's attorney says his  problems began after fights broke out with other inmates who broke out.

"The inmates popped open their cell doors with a toothbrush and attacked Mr. Washington," said Craft.

Court  testimony showed that Washington slammed another inmate's finger in a door, which prompted sheriff's deputies to put him in a device called a five point restraint.

"It was our contention that they were responsible for his death. Officers said they were never trained in using five point restraints," said Craft.

To make matters worse, it took weeks for the Washingtons to find out Kerry had died.

"Not until they went to the coroner's office, digging though death records, did they learn, with the kindness of one sheriff's deputy telling him, not only is he dead, he's been dead for weeks," said Craft.

Washington's death in five point restraints was not the only one in the past seven years. The Orleans Prison Reform Coalition says the 2009 death of Caine Micelli was also blamed on those restraints.

"I hope and desire that this case be a catalyst for change," said Craft.

Sources say those restraints are no longer used in the New Orleans Justice Center.

More than two years ago, a New Orleans judge awarded the family $660,000 after a wrongful death trial, but the family hasn't seen a dime.

"I felt hopeful but now I'm feeling hopeless," said Washington.

Payment of such judgments rendered against Orleans Parish entities take a notoriously long time, and this case appears to be no exception.

"The sheriff's assets are not subject to seizure. I'm confident their lawyers have been paid," said Craft.

"I feel like my city failed me. I love new Orleans and wish it would give me the justice I deserve," said Kerri.

But the Washingtons persevere, in spite of their loss.

Jail observers say that prison guards are no longer using five point restraints but have not ruled their use out for the future, with proper training.

Neither the sheriff's office or it's attorney responded to repeated requests for comment for this story.

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