By Matt Davis, The Lens staff writer |

District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro has charged former Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Deputy William Thompson with malfeasance in office after the deputy allegedly abandoned his post, allowing an inmate on suicide watch to kill himself.


Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman issued a warrant for Thompson’s arrest on Aug. 17.  Thompson was assigned to watch inmate William Goetzee, who died in jail after swallowing toilet paper on Aug. 7.

Thompson was initially arrested and charged with malfeasance in office, a felony, and injuring public records, a misdemeanor — the second charge because the Sheriff’s Office alleged that he had filed a report claiming to have watched Goetzee the whole time. Cannizzaro has dropped the second charge but his office declined comment on the reasons why this afternoon.

Thompson’s case will now be allotted to a section of Criminal District Court and he will face arraignment.

Goetzee’s family has retained civil-rights attorney Mary Howell, who issued a statement on their behalf, supporting to the charging decision this afternoon.

“We remain deeply saddened at this terrible and completely avoidable loss of life. It has been a shocking experience for us to discover the profound lack of appropriate intervention, treatment, and oversight in our medical and criminal justice systems,” the family wrote.

Thompson’s attorney, Robert Jenkins, was unavailable for comment.