A man who has been awaiting trial for more than seven years over an execution-style murder is facing new charges that he attacked a deputy at the Orleans Justice Center last week.
The incident highlighted the continuing violence at the city’s new $150 million jail despite a federally supervised reform effort that has foundered amid chronic staffing shortages.
“In a well-run direct-supervision jail, it is an oddity to have an inmate-on-inmate assault or an inmate assault on staff,” Susan McCampbell, a corrections expert monitoring the reforms, testified in federal court last week. “In this facility, it’s an almost daily occurrence.”
In this case, the inmate, Dayshawn M. Celestain, 31, punched Deputy Thomas Sutherland with a closed fist after guards used pepper spray on him, according to an Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office report.
Celestain had been “combative and uncooperative,” the report says, and “pepper spray had to be deployed” to control him.
Sutherland then escorted Celestain to the jail’s medical clinic to receive “decontamination” treatment.
Surveillance footage shows Celestain “flushing his eyes” in the jail’s medical clinic and, after regaining his vision, striking the deputy in the face “without apparent provocation,” the report says.
Sutherland was treated for cuts to the inside of his lip.
The inmate, meanwhile, was rebooked on felony counts of second-degree battery and battery of a correctional facility employee.
Celestain has been jailed since October 2008 in the grisly slaying of Brandon Martes, a case that has received little attention even though Celestain faces the death penalty. Police said at the time that Celestain and an accomplice fatally shot Martes in the back of the head before raping and shooting the man’s girlfriend.
The jailhouse incident continued a trend of violence that has troubled McCampbell, the corrections expert, and her team of monitors.
McCampbell told a federal judge last week that there were at least 16 inmate-on-staff assaults at the new jail between Sept. 15 and Dec. 31 and at least 44 instances in which deputies used force on inmates.
“It just shows that the staff are not in control of the facility,” she said, “if they have to use force to compel inmates.”
Follow Jim Mustian on Twitter, @JimMustian.