New Orleans Officers Charged for Katrina Bridge Killings
In the midst of the insanity that was Hurricane Katrina, families fled their homes to get above the rising water. Scared and frightened many chose to walk the Danziger Bridge that led to higher ground and food sustenance. But police officers, who were already a concern in the city of New Orelans, were armed and ready to turn people away.
Six officers were involved in the killing and cover-up of 17-year-old James Brissette, wounding Brissette’s friend’s family and killing 40-year-old mentally challenged Ronald Madison. Because all the victims were unarmed, the officers falsified information about the deaths. But in a two-year investigation the four current and two former officers have finally been charged.
According to The Times Picayune:
Since the fall of 2008, federal investigators have been in charge of Danziger, and earlier this year, prosecutors from the U.S. Department of Justice broke the case wide open, showing their hand through a series of guilty pleas from officers who acknowledged the bridge shootings were unjustified and that police had conspired to cover them up. The indictment charges the rest of the officers involved in what prosecutors have termed a “bad shoot” and the alleged coverup that followed.
The indictment alleges three current New Orleans police officers — Sgts. Kenneth Bowen and Robert Gisevius, plus officer Anthony Villavaso — killed 17-year-old James Brissette without justification. Former officer Robert Faulcon, who quit the force not long after the storm, was also charged in the fatal shooting of Brissette, a teenager walking with a friend’s family from eastern New Orleans to a grocery store in Gentilly.
All four officers are also accused of participating in a long-running, detailed coverup of the shooting that prosecutors allege began just after officers stopped firing their weapons.
The indictment accuses two homicide detectives, Sgt. Arthur Kaufman and retired Sgt. Gerard Dugue, of helping to orchestrate a coverup that included manufactured witnesses, fabricated statements by police, the planting of a gun and lies by officers questioned by the FBI.