New Orleans officers convicted over Katrina shootings

New Orleans officers convicted over Katrina shootings

A US federal jury has convicted five police officers in New Orleans over fatal shootings in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

new orleans cops convicted

Two unarmed residents were killed and four others wounded in the incident on the Danziger Bridge after the 2005 storm.

But the jury decided that neither of the fatal shootings was a murder.

The five officers were convicted of violations stemming from the cover-up of the deaths.

Four of the men were also found guilty of civil rights violations.

Former officers Robert Faulcon, Anthony Villavaso, Sgt Robert Gisevius and Sgt Kenneth Bowen were convicted of taking part in the shootings that killed James Brissette, 17, and Ronald Madison, 40, as well as the alleged cover-up.

Retired officer Sgt Arthur Kaufman, who investigated the shootings, was charged only in the alleged cover-up.

Most of New Orleans was flooded by the hurricane and there was widespread looting and violence in the storm’s aftermath.

During the five-week trial, prosecutors said that police shot six unarmed people on the Danziger Bridge on the morning of 4 September 2005, less than one week after the storm struck New Orleans.

They also argued in earlier court proceedings that the men plotted to plant a gun, fabricate witnesses and falsify reports to cover up what they had done.

In closing testimony on Tuesday, Assistant US Attorney Theodore Carter said police had no justification for shooting unarmed people attempting to cross the Danziger in search of food days after Katrina struck.

“It was unreasonable for these officers to fire even one shot, let alone dozens,” he had said.

But lawyers representing the officers argued the police were shot at before they returned fire and believed their lives were in danger.

Since Katrina, the New Orleans police department has been the target of allegations of corruption and brutality.

“This was a critical verdict. I cannot overstate the importance of this verdict,” US Attorney Jim Letten said after the verdict.

“The power, the message it sends to the community, the healing power it has,” he added.

Last year, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu described the city’s police department as “one of the worst” in the country, and asked the US government to aid reform efforts.

Courtesy of the BBC

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Posted by on August 5, 2011. Filed under Crime,News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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5 Responses to New Orleans officers convicted over Katrina shootings

  1. Jess

    August 5, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    How they arrived at the fact that this was not murder was shocking to me. Yeah they were found guilty on civil rights abuses but not murder. someone smart is going to have to explain that to me in small words I will understand.

  2. Michael John Scott

    August 5, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    They were charged with violating the civil rights of the victims, not murder. Clearly the officers argued self defense and the jury bought it. Unfortunately for the cops they got caught up in their own lies and were convicted for them.

    • Jess

      August 5, 2011 at 7:34 pm

      Right but because of their actions someone was killed, so to me that is murder by law enforcement and why that was never an issue is beyond me. You can be certain if you or I had done this we would be looking at life imprisonment.

      • Bradley scott

        August 5, 2011 at 11:28 pm

        Or, had MJS been involved in something similar to this case before he retired from law enforcement, he may have received a very similar administration of ‘justice.’ Our laws may be fairly rigid, but the system by which they are enforced is quite…maleable? Whether too lenient or too strict is often a matter of opinion based on whose ox has been gored.

  3. Sagacious Hillbilly

    August 8, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    Now there’s something you don’t see very often: cops convicted of the crimes they commit. I’ll bet they get off easy.