Orleans jail inmate removed from life support Sunday after being found ‘unresponsive’ two days earlier, OPSO says

An inmate at the Orleans Justice Center jail was found 'unresponsive' in a cell Friday around...
An inmate at the Orleans Justice Center jail was found 'unresponsive' in a cell Friday around 2:45 a.m., and was removed from life support Sunday (May 28), Sheriff Susan Hutson's office said.(WVUE)
Published: May. 28, 2023 at 2:09 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - An Orleans Parish jail inmate was removed from hospital life support systems Sunday (May 28), two days after being found “unresponsive” in his cell, Sheriff Susan Hutson’s office said.

The identity and age of the deceased inmate has not been disclosed. An Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said the agency was awaiting a toxicology report from the parish coroner before revealing the man’s cause of death.

According to the OPSO, the inmate was found “unresponsive” in his cell Friday at about 2:45 a.m. A statement said deputies notified Orleans Justice Center nurses, New Orleans EMS and the New Orleans Fire Department after the man was found in an unspecified pod of the jail. The statement also said a chief deputy of jail operations was notified at 3:17 a.m. and “directed immediate action” after arriving to the facility.

The statement said “Sheriff Susan Hutson and other senior leadership immediately traveled to University Medical Center upon notification of the incident.”

But the statement shrouded in mystery the cause of the inmate’s affliction. A spokesperson told Fox 8 on Sunday that the detainee did not meet a violent end, but could not say whether the death was deemed from natural causes or from an overdose on illicit drugs smuggled into the facility.

The closest the agency came to hinting at a cause was a line from its statement saying, “The staff conducted a shakedown and found contraband in the pod that was turned over to our Investigative Services Bureau.”

The type and amount of contraband was not disclosed, nor did the OPSO say specifically whether it was found in the dead inmate’s cell or elsewhere. But the statement said, “Residents have been on restriction until OPSO agents conclude the investigation.”

The spokesperson said the inmate’s family was notified and “permitted to visit him several times” before the man was removed from life support Sunday afternoon.

No arrests have been announced in connection to the man’s death or the contraband found.

The OPSO statement said, “While the investigation is currently ongoing, agency leadership are determining whether any administrative action needs to be taken.”

It added, “Due to the open and active investigation, the resident and staff member names are not being released at this time. OPSO is committed to transparency and will provide more information as soon as it can be released.”

After previously pledging to release weekly reports on jail incidents on its website, Hutson’s office has not posted one since Feb. 24.

Sherrif Hutson released a statement saying:

“As Sheriff, I am deeply saddened by the death of a resident at the Orleans Justice Center. This agency is committed to the care and humane treatment of everyone in our custody, and I will be unwavering in my efforts to get a full account of the incidents that lead up to this. Although we’re in the midst of a very preliminary investigation, we have been in close contact with the resident’s family, jail staff and senior leadership and will determine if any disciplinary action needs to be taken.”

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