- Associated Press - Sunday, February 2, 2014

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A former guard at Orleans Parish Prison is seeking $1.5 million in damages against Sheriff Marlin Gusman, arguing he was forced to resign out of fear for his safety once he was identified as the person responsible for an information leak.

Bryan Collins joined the sheriff’s office in September 2009 and resigned Dec. 5. Collins is seeking damages including back pay, benefits, reinstatement, attorneys’ fees and court costs

In his federal lawsuit filed Thursday, The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1ikaHWD ) that Collins alleges his right to free speech was infringed upon when Gusman opened an investigation into him after Collins revealed he provided local media and a civil rights organization with information and photos that appear to document numerous problems at the jail.

Collins argues he wrote “numerous reports” to his superiors about “inadequate facilities, staffing and supervision” that led to inmate-on-inmate violence, according to the lawsuit.

However, the suit says, neither his supervisors nor Gusman took any action to correct the perceived problems with inmate safety or to prevent fights from happening again.

At that point, Collins said he notified the Southern Poverty Law Center, which had filed a class-action suit against Gusman because of conditions at the jail, about the violence and the lack of response from sheriff’s office officials.

A spokesman for Gusman could not immediately say Friday whether the sheriff had been served with the lawsuit.

In the lawsuit, Collins claims that the information he provided to the SPLC was protected under the First Amendment because it was a “matter of public concern.”

After the sheriff’s office learned that one of its employees had spoken to the SPLC and provided it with information, Collins said in the lawsuit that he was interrogated and threatened termination and criminal prosecution because of the information he shared.


Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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