NEW ORLEANS - Early in March, Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman testified in a civil deposition that he hadn’t seen the now infamous videos of inmates flashing a handgun, drinking beer, and snorting and smoking drugs inside his jail facility.
Asked if he knew about the videos made by an escaped inmate, the sheriff replied: “I had heard something about that, but I wasn’t privy to that. It was one of those rumors you hear,” according to a transcript of the deposition.
Yet, two weeks later, after the videos were publicly released in federal court, Gusman took the stand and recalled seeing video on a small screen in 2009. He said that it was sketchy and blurry.
He later suggested the videos may have been doctored.
The videos were pulled from a safe belonging to Gusman’s office, though the sheriff said he didn’t know of the safe.
Gusman sat for a civil deposition as part of a federal civil rights suit and consent decree over his office and jail facilities.
Throughout the deposition, Gusman refuted many of the claims made by the government and lodged in the consent decree.
Nonetheless, Gusman acknowledged signing the agreement, which mandates numerous reforms.
“Well, I am asking the Court to enter into this Consent Decree so that we can put the litigation that was brought by the Department of Justice and the Southern Poverty Law Center behind us,” Gusman said.
The sheriff also took issue with the Justice Department’s findings and investigation, calling one of their reports “poorly done.”
Gusman’s office has not responded to recent requests for comment.
A transcript of the deposition was obtained through a records request to Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration, which is a party in the federal suit.