No deputies were in jailhouse pod where deadly fight broke out, Sheriff says

Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 4:33 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 16, 2022 at 6:29 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - City leaders on Wednesday held a marathon council meeting on crime and the problems that led to two in-custody deaths and the closure of Criminal District Court.

A jailhouse brawl broke out Friday at the Orleans Parish Justice Center, claiming the life of Philip Soublet Jr. and sending two other inmates to the hospital for treatment.

A second man, Chad Neyland, jumped from a balcony to his death inside the facility on Sunday in a separate incident.

Sheriff Susan Hutson says there were no deputies in the pod at the time the fight broke out. She says deputies were observing from a remote location.

The shortage of staff prompted Hutson to pull deputies from courthouse security details to work the jail.

“Two deaths in three days will no longer be treated as ‘business as usual,’” Sheriff Hutson testified.

Hutson says her office, about 175 employees short of where it should be, is working on short- and long-term plans to address staffing needs.

Deputies are also working to remove items that can be used as shanks.

Councilmember J.P. Morrell warned the sheriff that if she doesn’t get a handle on staffing quickly, more jailhouse problems could arise in the future.

Judge Robin Pittman testified that having so few deputies at the courthouse is concerning for witnesses, attorneys, and spectators that come into the court on a daily basis.

“We are very concerned for our safety,” Judge Robin Pittman testified. “Not having the deputies we need, we are making do.”

Hutson says she has a robust recruitment plan in place but is considering going in front of the council to ask for more money to increase deputy salaries.

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