A former Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy charged with assaulting an inmate last year has been found not guilty of malfeasance in office.
Criminal District Court Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier acquitted the former deputy, Lateefa Marshall, 33, after a trial Tuesday. No jury was involved.
Marshall had been accused of striking an inmate inside a temporary housing tent at Orleans Parish Prison and falsifying a report that accused the inmate, Shantya Trahan, of bumping into the deputy and spitting at her.
Authorities said Marshall’s account was contradicted by jailhouse surveillance video, which, according to an arrest warrant, showed the deputy’s report was “untruthful on its face.”
The warrant also claimed the attack had been “without cause or reason.”
Marshall’s colleagues had to intervene to break up the violence, authorities said.
Trahan received minor injuries to her ear and chest, according to the warrant. A related federal lawsuit claims the inmate suffered scarring in her right ear, in addition to emotional pain and suffering.
According to the lawsuit, the incident occurred during roll call after Trahan asked permission to use the telephone to call her family about a recent death.
Marshall was accused of shouting an expletive at the inmate and slamming her head against a bunk. “Deputy Marshall continued violently attacking Ms. Trahan by yelling, spitting on and punching her in the face while Ms. Trahan was stunned on the floor,” the lawsuit says.
Flemings-Davillier rejected the state’s case, citing “major inconsistencies” between the video and Trahan’s testimony and dismissing the footage as being “of poor quality,” according to an account of the trial published by The Times-Picayune.
The acquittal delivered a rebuff to Sheriff Marlin Gusman and District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, who called a news conference in May 2014 to announce Marshall’s arrest. Both officials touted the prosecution as proof that deputy misconduct would not be tolerated at the troubled jail.
“This case is particularly egregious in light of the fact that the perpetrator has been entrusted with the safekeeping of these individuals,” Cannizzaro said at the time.
Marshall’s defense attorneys did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
A Cannizzaro spokesman also did not return messages.
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