Former guard sues Michigan DOC, claims he was punished, fired for reporting drug smuggling

A former prison guard is suing the Michigan Department of Corrections and claims he was discriminated against because of his race and punished for reporting drug smuggling inside the prison where he worked.

Brandon Canty, 28, says he was working at the Gus Harrison correctional facility in Adrian when he saw something that would change his life forever: another officer smuggling drugs. He reported what he saw and says things changed, quickly.

"Outside of dealing with the murderers and rapists, child molesters, that wasn't my concern - it was the officers I was dealing with," Canty said. 

On Monday, Canty spoke exclusively to FOX 2 with his attorney, James Rasor, by his side. Rasor filed a federal lawsuit on Canty's behalf, claiming that Canty was retaliated against because he's black.

"It's just heartbreaking when you're doing your job and you wind up being framed and fired." Rasor said. "It is a cesspool of toxicity when it comes to discrimination."

The suit says a prisoner, James Hart, told Canty about the drug operation that involved two other prisoners in 2016. Canty immediately reported it to his superiors. 

"If you have integrity you do the right thing, but at what personal cost?" Rasor asked.

The suit claims when Canty came forward, the retaliation began - and it wasn't just against Canty. 

"The two prisoners that substantiated and corroborated what Brandon said about the drug running were transferred to other facilities and wound up dead," Rasor said.

Rasor says their deaths were just a week apart. Just a few months later, Canty was accused of using excessive force during an altercation with a prisoner. The lawsuit accuses his superior of only interviewing two white corrections officers and not another Hispanic officer, who apparently witnessed it.

"If i could show you my excessive force investigation, it's a joke. I have a written statement corroborating my events from the same prisoner," Canty said.

The suit says Canty's job performance was then monitored for 180 days - unlike other officers who are white. It also claims that Canty was then denied a transfer to another prison because of that and then fired in March.

"They used this event to fire him and Brandon was afraid for himself, afraid for his life," Rasor said.

FOX 2 reached out to a MDOC spokesperson Monday but were told they cannot comment on pending litigation.

Canty is seeking an unspecified amount in compensation and punitive damages. He says he hopes others who feel discriminated against will not be afraid to come forward as well.