JIM MUSTIAN| JMUSTIAN@THEADVOCATE.COM
April 7, 2015
A former Orleans Parish Prison inmate has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Sheriff Marlin Gusman, claiming she was assaulted behind bars by a female deputy who was later fired.
Shantya Trahan, 26, says the March 2014 assault left her with “scarring and discomfort in her right ear,” according to a lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in New Orleans.
The lawsuit also names as a defendant Lateefa Marshall, a former Sheriff’s Office deputy who was charged with malfeasance in office last year. Marshall, 33, is scheduled to stand trial next month.
Gusman said last year that Marshall had filed a report claiming a female inmate in one of the temporary housing tents at OPP had bumped into her and spat at her, supposedly justifying a physical response by the deputy.
Video of the incident, however, showed the deputy’s battery of the inmate was “unprovoked,” according to an arrest warrant for Marshall. The inmate suffered injuries to her ear and chest, the warrant said.
The sheriff has said other deputies had to intervene to break up the violence. Marshall, who had worked at the jail for about a year, initially was suspended but was later dismissed from the Sheriff’s Office.
The lawsuit says the incident happened during roll call after Trahan asked to use the telephone “to contact her family, which had suffered a recent death.”
Marshall yelled at Trahan, the lawsuit says, telling her to “shut the (expletive) up.”
“Deputy Marshall attacked Ms. Trahan by rushing in her direction and slamming her head against a bunk,” the lawsuit says. “Thereafter, Deputy Marshall continued violently attacking Ms. Trahan by yelling, spitting on and punching her in the face while Ms. Trahan was stunned on the floor.”
Marshall punched the inmate several more times after Trahan said she intended to press charges, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit describes the assault as “yet another example of a pattern and practice of unnecessary, excessive and, at times, abusive force used by deputies against inmates at OPP.”
Since 2013, the jail has been subject to a court-ordered plan for sweeping changes, many of which remain unfulfilled.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
The Sheriff’s Office has a policy of not commenting on pending litigation.