An attorney for an Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy accused of facilitating a brutal jailhouse stabbing involving a rogues’ gallery of accused murderers and gangsters said Friday that his client was an innocent fall guy for an understaffed jail operation.
Deputy John Dupart, 42, who was suspended following his indictment Wednesday, “was a deputy trying to be responsible for three entire floors where nothing works in that jail,” attorney Jeffrey Smith said. “He did nothing wrong at all. He’s become a scapegoat.”
A state grand jury on Wednesday handed up an indictment accusing Dupart of malfeasance in office and being a principal to aggravated battery. Six inmates were accused of attempted second-degree murder in the stabbing incident.
Dupart’s role remained unclear Friday, but it likely will emerge at a bail hearing set for Tuesday as he seeks a reduction from the $750,000 figure set by Criminal District Court Judge Karen Herman.
Smith said he has arranged for Dupart, a deputy for five years, to surrender on Monday.
Court records on the eight inmates indicted along with him describe a brutal stabbing and attempted cover-up allegedly perpetrated by several men accused of murder and other violent acts.
The victim, Terrance Lee, had been jailed inside the Old Parish Prison, a building that houses many of the jail’s most violent criminal defendants, despite apparently being held on only an attempted simple robbery count after an arrest in August, according to court records.
According to a Sheriff’s Office investigative report, Lee, 37, was sent to the emergency room with “several stab wounds throughout his back area” from an attack just before 9 a.m. Sept. 13.
Three days later, in a recorded interview, he identified several fellow inmates as his assailants.
Among them were Tyrone Knockum, 24; Frederick Johnson, 30; Marvin Banks, 18; Joshua Domino, 19; and Lonnie Ingram, 32, all of whom were named in the new indictment.
He also identified one of his attackers as Bernell “Benny” Pollard, 25, who was convicted last year along with a cousin, Jamiron Pollard, 32, in the 2010 murder of 2-year-old Jeremy Galmon.
The toddler was killed while sitting on his grandmother’s lap inside a parked car when a gun battle broke out near a second-line parade in Central City.
Lee also identified Jamiron Pollard and Alfred Clay, 50, as the two inmates who “orchestrated the attack,” according to the report.
Clay was among eight inmates named in the indictment, accused of obstruction of justice along with Cody Williams, 25. Clay allegedly passed the shanks used in the stabbing attack to Williams, who hid them in his cell, where they were found, the report said.
Neither Bernell Pollard nor Jamiron Pollard was named in the indictment. Both remain in the local jail awaiting trial on other murder charges.
A witness to the stabbing also told authorities he saw Darrius Knox, 22, among those stabbing Lee. Knox is the sixth alleged stabber named in the indictment.
Clay, Ingram, Knox and Knockum are all alleged to be affiliated with the 3NG gang, named for the group’s stomping grounds around Third and South Galvez streets.
A 30-count indictment last year accused the four and 16 others of participating in a group that meted out deadly violence over nearly a decade to fortify its drug-dealing business in Central City.
Knockum and three other men were indicted separately in August in the 2010 murders of local bounce rapper Renatta “Magnolia Shorty” Lowe and Jerome “Man-Man” Hampton as they sat in a car in New Orleans East.
None of the 20 indicted defendants in the 3NG case has pleaded guilty or faced trial.
Smith, Dupart’s attorney, insisted that the deputy “has nothing to do with any gang.”
All of the indicted inmates denied any involvement in the stabbing incident when interviewed on Oct. 14.
Philip Stelly, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman, declined Friday to specify why Lee was housed with the other men, given the relatively light charge for which he was held.
“In addition to an arrestee’s current charge, the Sheriff’s Office considers other relevant factors in making housing assignments,” Stelly said.
Lee pleaded guilty in 2009 to a charge of injuring public records. In 2012, he pleaded guilty to unauthorized entry into an inhabited dwelling and received a five-year suspended sentence.
One of his attorneys, J.C. Lawrence, said Lee has recovered from his stabbing injuries.
Lawrence said Lee’s concern wasn’t so much about where he was housed.
“The problem he had was this deputy intentionally letting those people come in there to do him harm,” Lawrence said.