Coroner: Orleans inmate dies of cocaine overdose

Wynton Yates talks about how an inmate overdosed in the parish jail.

NEW ORLEANS -- Twenty three-year-old Colby Crawford was being held at the Orleans Justice Center jail since May 3, 2016, when he was booked for aggravated battery and domestic abuse with a dangerous weapon.

On February 22, 2017, Crawford was found dead in his cell. Orleans Parish Coroner Jeffery Rouse announced that the cause of death “acute cocaine intoxication.”

“My question is, where is the supervision?" said Emily Washington, an attorney with Rodrick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center. "Where was the deputy? Why is this allowed to go on and where is the introspection from the Sheriff’s Office to ask those questions to ask how those drugs got into the jail in the first place?” 

Washington represents inmates in the jail and said she was disturbed to hear the details of this death.

“I’ve seen the gist that comes from the Sheriff’s Office in that charge and it mentions that there were multiple prisoners on the tier using cocaine over the course of multiple hours during the day,” Washington said.

Our partners at the New Orleans Advocate report that inmate Bradley Bright has been arrested in connection with Crawford’s death and 28-year-old inmate Durrell Fuller is suspected of supplying the drugs.

Crawford’s death was singled out as a cause for concern in a recent report by federal monitors. It said progress towards compliance with a reform plan has “regressed” since Independent administrator Gary Maynard took over day-to-day operations.

Washington explained this is the opposite of what they hoped would happen when they filed for receivership last summer and agreed to bringing in the compliance director.

“Our hope with bringing in the compliance director was to bring in someone who would also leverage other resources, subject matter experts to really come by and push for reform in these areas of security, health care, care for youth in the jail,” Washington said.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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