5 NOPD Officers Guilty in Katrina Murders

danziger-defendants.jpg

Five current or former New Orleans police officers were convicted in the Danziger Bridge murder case, and subsequent cover up. They are, from top left: Kenneth Bowen, Robert Faulcon, Robert Gisevius, Arthur Kaufman and Anthony Villavaso.

The wheels of Justice turn slow, and they are often out of alignment, and way too often can be bought -

But every once in a while they actually produce justice…

5 NOPD officers guilty in post-Katrina Danziger Bridge shootings, cover-up

A jury this morning convicted all five New Orleans police officers accused in the Danziger Bridgeshootings, which took place amid the chaos after Hurricane Katrina and claimed the lives of two civilians, and a cover-up of startling scope that lasted almost five years.

The verdicts were a huge victory for federal prosecutors, who won on virtually every point, save for their contention that the shootings amounted to murder. The jury rejected that notion, finding that the officers violated the victims’ civil rights, but that their actions did not constitute murder.

Sentencing for the five officers, all of them likely facing lengthy prison terms, has been set for Dec. 14 before U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt.

Four of the five officers – Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Robert Faulcon and Anthony Villavaso — have been in custody since their arraignment.

The fifth, retired Sgt. Arthur “Archie” Kaufman, who was not involved in the shootings but headed the police investigation into them, remains free on bail.

In remarks on the courthouse steps shortly after the verdicts were rendered, lead prosecutor Barbara “Bobbi” Bernstein said she was “in awe” of the relatives of the bridge shooting victims. Without their persistence, she said, the truth about the incident would never come to light.

Lance Madison, whose brother, Ronald, was shot and killed on the bridge, and who was jailed for allegedly shooting at police, thanked the jury and the federal authorities who brought the case, while noting he will never get his brother back.

“We’re thankful for closure after six long years of waiting for justice,” Madison said.

The landmark civil-rights case — one of four major federal cases involving use of force by New Orleans police to result in indictments so far — has been closely watched around the nation.

Because of its sheer magnitude, the Danziger case was the most high-stakes of the nine civil-rights probes into the NOPD the Justice Department has confirmed. Before today’s verdicts, five other former officers, all of whom testified during the six-week trial, had already pleaded guilty to various roles in the shootings and the subsequent cover-up.

The two other cases to go to trial so far — involving the deaths of Henry Glover and Raymond Robair at the hands of police — both resulted in convictions, although two officers accused of different roles in the Glover case were acquitted, and a third officer who was convicted recently had that verdict vacated.

While today’s verdicts close the book on most aspects of the Danziger case, one officer charged in the cover-up still faces charges: retired Sgt. Gerard Dugue, who is set to be tried Sept. 26…

More Charges In Katrina Murders

Wow… They are finally getting around to the Danziger Bridge murders, which conservative “News” hyped as “wild gangs of blacks shooting at rescuers” or a “shootout”…

Now the truth.

Turns out it wasn’t the citizens who were rioting.

Police Charged in Post-Katrina Shootings and Cover-Up

Six current or former police officers were charged in connection with shootings on the Danziger Bridge in the days afterHurricane Katrina that left two dead and four wounded, federal law enforcement officials announced here on Tuesday.

The charges allege that after the shootings, police supervisors engaged in a blatant cover-up of crimes that included the strafing of unarmed civilians and the slaying of a mentally disabled man. The case is one of several that have led Mayor Mitch Landrieu to seek a Justice Department review of the city’s police department.

Four of the officers charged Tuesday — Sgt. Kenneth Bowen, Sgt. Robert Gisevius Officer Anthony Villavaso and former officer Robert Faulcon — were accused in the killing of a 17-year-old James Brissette. Mr. Faulcon was also charged with shooting Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old mentally disabled man, in the back, and Sergeant Bowen with kicking and stomping Mr. Madison while he was dying on the ground.

All of the officers could possibly face the death penalty.

The four police officers along with two supervisors, Sgt. Arthur Kaufman and former Sgt. Gerard Dugue, two longtime homicide detectives investigating the shootings for the Police Department, were also charged with obstruction of justice in what officials described as an elaborate and in places blatantly false cover-up story.

The charges were announced at a news conference attended by Eric H. Holder Jr., the attorney general; Tom Perez, the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division; Jim Letten, the United States attorney in New Orleans; and several federal prosecutors and F.B.I. officials.

The officers charged in Mr. Brissette’s death are in custody, federal officials said.

Five other police officers have already been charged in connection with the killings on the Danziger Bridge on Sept. 4, 2005, when much of the city was still underwater. The first charge came in February, when Lt. Michael J. Lohman pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to obstruct justice.

Four more officers and a civilian have pleaded guilty since then to charges of obstructing justice and covering up a felony.

Last month, five police officers were indicted in connection with the murder of Henry Glover, 31, who was shot to death in the Algiers neighborhood in the days just after Katrina and whose body was later found in a burned car behind a police station.

The police force is the subject of eight federal investigations, some of them for actions years after Katrina.

In early May, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, on his third day in office, formally asked the Department of Justice to conduct the full-scale review of the department, a process that often ends in a consent decree, a binding agreement for systemic reform.

Justice Department officials, who had been discussing such a possibility with the mayor before the formal request, announced shortly afterward that they were beginning the wide-ranging investigation.

Ronald Madison (undated photo) was murdered on the Danziger Bridge by NOLA Police

Beginning of Justice For Katrina Murders

New Orleans Police Chief Warren Riley responds to confession by New Orleans Police officer that he covered up the murders of 2 innocent people, and shooting of 4 others on the Danizger Bridge by New Orleans Police. This was one incident of a number of murders committed by the police and other parties in the immediate aftermath of Katrina which, in this case has taken 4 1/2 years to wind their way through the courts.

Ex-New Orleans Cop Pleads Guilty To Massive Cover Up In Post-Katrina Shootings

A veteran New Orleans police officer pleaded guilty yesterday to orchestrating an elaborate cover-up of a shooting in the days after Katrina in which police gunned down six unarmed city residents, killing two and seriously wounding four.

The development — which the Times-Picayune calls a “potentially devastating blow” to other officers linked to the case — is the first plea in a wide-ranging federal probe of several post-Katrina police shootings. The Feds are reportedly looking at possible crimes in both the shootings themselves as well as the subsequent investigations.

The Danziger Bridge shootings occurred on Sept. 4, 2005, just six days after Katrina hit. The victims were reportedly stranded on a part of Chef Menteur highway that was surrounded by flooding; the police involved were working out of a temporary station at a reception hall nearby.

In federal court Wednesday, former Lt. Michael Lohman plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice in the incident. He arrived on the bridge after a group of officers had opened fire at two groups of unarmed citizens, leaving Ronald Madison, a mentally disabled 40-year old man, dead from six gunshot wounds, and James Brissette, 19, dead from seven gunshot wounds.

In charge of supervising the police investigation, Lohman drafted a bogus 17-page report on the incident, and helped other officers prepare false reports that would agree on a single narrative. When another investigator planted a handgun at the scene, Lohman questioned him to make sure it was “clean.”

Lohman admitted “he knew that the civilians on the bridge had not actually possessed guns, and he knew that the investigator had also falsified statements by the civilians,” according to the government’s press release. Continue reading

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