Orleans Parish Prison inmate dies after fight

An inmate at Orleans Parish Prison died early Sunday morning, two hours after he had been in a fight with another prisoner, according to Philip Stelly, a spokesman for Sheriff Marlin Gusman.

The dead inmate’s name is being withheld until his family has been notified.

The fight occurred at about 10:20 p.m. Saturday in one of the jail’s temporary housing units, known as “the tents,” Stelly said.

According to Stelly, deputies quickly broke up the fight and took the man who later died to another facility. The man had no visible signs of injury, Stelly said.

About 10:35 p.m., however, the inmate began to complain of difficulty breathing and collapsed. Medical staff began CPR, and Emergency Medical Services was notified.

The inmate was transported to Interim LSU Hospital for treatment, but he died at 12:17 a.m., Stelly said.

An autopsy will be performed by the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office.

“We are saddened when we lose an inmate in our care, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family,” Gusman said in a statement.

Violence is commonplace at the jail, which is considered by many experts to be one of the most dangerous in the nation. The high number of assaults on inmates was cited in a Department of Justice report that alleged jail conditions were unconstitutional and eventually led Gusman to enter into a consent decree with the federal government to improve conditions.

At a hearing before U.S. District Judge Lance Africk on Thursday, attorneys for both the city and the Justice Department slammed Gusman for not making improvements faster.

“People continue to be stabbed, beaten and are suffering from a lack of mental health care,” Laura Coon, a Justice Department attorney, told Africk.