FBI interviews whistleblower over safety issues in Arizona prison system

Posted at 11:38 AM, Jun 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-14 14:38:47-04

For weeks, ABC15 has been exposing the unsafe conditions inside the Arizona prison system, including speaking with the whistleblower who first leaked surveillance video showing broken door locks at Lewis Prison. Now, the FBI is also talking with Sgt. Gaby Contreras.

Sources tell ABC15, special agents with the FBI interviewed Contreras on Thursday, seeking her out to talk following her leak of footage showing dangerous conditions inside the West Valley facility.

FULL COVERAGE: Broken prison cell doors exposed at Lewis Prison after ABC15 investigation

In an interview in early May, Contreras told ABC15 she felt compelled to speak up.

"Because it's a crime, what they were doing, allowing this to happen, allowing staff to get hurt and not doing anything about it," Contreras said.

Contreras is a five-year veteran of the department working at the Lewis Prison in the Morey Unit. It's one of several units where the doors don't properly lock, and she leaked a handful of videos proving it.

VIDEOS: Leaked footage shows inmate attacks at Lewis Prison

"I'm tired of seeing it. I'm tired of seeing my staff get slaughtered," Contreras told ABC15 in our May interview.

Contreras claims her warnings about the broken doors were ignored, even by top administrators. She also claimed there was a move to cover-up and minimize how many doors were broken.

"I would say every single door in my unit can be tampered and manipulated to be opened from inside the cell or outside the cell," she described.

An attorney for Contreras said that the FBI wanted to interview her because of what they've seen in our reports about the issues inside Lewis Prison.

The FBI told Contreras' lawyer they are not calling this an open investigation at this point.

We have reached out to the Arizona Department of Corrections and the governor's office for comment on this new development.