5 New Orleans Police Given Long Sentences for Post-Katrina Danziger Bridge Incident

Friday, April 06, 2012
(graphic: New Orleans Times-Picayune)
New Orleans police officers convicted of shooting multiple people on the Danziger Bridge during the post-Katrina chaos face spending the rest of their lives in prison.
Federal Judge Kurt Engelhardt handed down stiff sentences on five former police who were convicted last summer.
Robert Faulcon Jr. received the longest sentence: 65 years in prison. Faulcon was convicted of shooting one of the victims, 40-year-old Ronald Madison, in the back with a shotgun.
Kenneth Bowen and Robert Gisevius Jr were each sentenced to 40 years in prison. Both former officers shot at those on the bridge with rifles, and Gisevius was also convicted of helping orchestrate a cover-up. Anthony Villavaso II received a 38-year prison term for shooting at unarmed civilians.
On the morning of September 3, 2005, the police received a report that people by the bridge were shooting at officers. Piling into an unmarked rental truck, they drove to the Danziger Bridge and found a group of civilians hiding by a concrete barrier. Bowen jumped out and sprayed them with bullets from an AK-47. The others followed suit. None of the civilians was armed.
In addition to Madison, 17-year-old James Brissette was killed and four others were wounded by the police.
Former New Orleans police officer Michael Hunter, who pleaded guilty in April 2010, testified that Sgt. Bowen kicked and stomped Madison as he lay dying. That charge against Bowen was later dropped for lack of physical evidence. At the time of Bowen’s plea, U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance told the courtroom: “I don’t think you can listen to that account without being sickened by the raw brutality of the shooting and the craven lawlessness of the cover-up.”
A fifth former cop, Arthur “Archie” Kaufman, was sentenced to six years in prison for falsifying reports or fabricating evidence related to the shootings.
Engelhardt was furious with the Department of Justice for allowing others involved in the shootings and the cover-up to plea bargain lighter sentences by cooperating with the investigation. “Using liars to convict liars is no way to pursue justice,” he said.
-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More

Officer Pleads Guilty in Post-Katrina Danziger Bridge Killing (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 


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