. Earth Science News .

New Orleans police on trial for post-Katrina killings
by Staff Writers
New Orleans, Louisiana (AFP) June 27, 2011

Five New Orleans police officers indiscriminately shot unarmed residents during the chaos unleashed by Hurricane Katrina and got colleagues to help cover up the crime, prosecutors said Monday.

"Shoot first, and ask questions later," federal prosecutor Bobbi Bernstein said during opening arguments of a high-profile trial of the officers.

"That's how this whole case got started."

Bernstein described a "seemingly endless barrage of gunshots" that left two people dead and four badly wounded and a wide-ranging conspiracy that lasted almost four years.

The deadly 2005 shooting on the Danziger Bridge came to epitomize the city's failure to protect its citizens and exposed deep-rooted corruption in the police department, which critics say remains unaddressed.

"I was a police officer for 23 years," said Anthony Radosti, the vice president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, a group that has played an unofficial watchdog role.

"And I'm appalled. We cannot have that in a civilized society."

Fear soon followed the deadly floodwaters which swallowed 80 percent of New Orleans and left thousands stranded on their rooftops after Katrina smashed through the city's poorly maintained levees on August 29, 2005.

Reports of widespread looting and armed gangs roaming the city shifted the government's already botched response from humanitarian aid to a military operation.

In the following days, six people -- almost all of them African American -- were killed under suspicious circumstances in incidents involving police. Scores more were injured.

The Danziger Bridge case is the most notorious of at least nine incidents being investigated by federal agents.

Defense attorneys gave a full-throated defense of their clients, depicting them as hero cops.

"These five had one thing in common -- they stayed," declared Paul Fleming, a lawyer representing Robert Faulcon.

He called the officers "proactive," saying, "They go out and get things done. They go out and get the bad guys."

Frank DeSalvo, the attorney who represents Sergeant Kenneth Bowen and has defended many NOPD officer in the past, called the government's case a work of "fiction" and compared it to a John Grisham novel.

DeSalvo and Flemming said that many of the government's witnesses were liars, singling out Michael Hunter, one of the officers who is set to testify against his former colleagues, and Lance Madison, a 20-year FedEx employee with no criminal record who watched his brother die that day.

Bernstein said ample evidence would be provided in the testimony of those caught in the crossfire, video from a nearby television crew and statements of three officers who have already pleaded guilty,

She described the terror experienced by one family, the Bartholomews, cowering behind a barricade as they "continued to feel more bullets rip through their flesh."

Four of the officers facing trial -- Sergeants Robert Gisevius and Bowen and Officers Anthony Villavaso and Faulcon -- were charged in 2007, by then-district attorney Eddie Jordan.

A judge threw out the case, citing prosecutorial misconduct.

The fifth defendant, Sergeant Arthur Kaufman, was not involved in the shooting, but faces charges for participating in the cover-up.

Much of the public supported the officers when they were first charged in 2007 and a crowd of more than a hundred people -- mostly off-duty officers -- rallied in their support on the day they turned themselves in.

But with new revelations of the extent of the violence and cover-up, public perception has changed. Several dozen protestors against police violence rallied outside the courtroom Monday.

While the case brought in 2007 likely would have pitted the words of civilian witnesses against police, in this trial five officers have already pleaded guilty and agreed to testify for the prosecution, which changes the dynamic.

Among the revelations that have already come out in guilty pleas are stories of secret meetings, the invention of non-existent witnesses, and the planting of a gun at the crime scene.

"This trial will help resolve the effectiveness of federal intervention," said Ursula Price, director of the city agency that was established as a result of community pressure post-Katrina for oversight of the department.

"If these prosecutions have real consequences it could lead to real change. We are waiting with bated breath."

Related Links
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
A world of storm and tempest
When the Earth Quakes

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Japan PM adds nuclear, reconstruction posts amid crisis
Tokyo (AFP) June 27, 2011
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Monday added two posts to his cabinet to oversee the country's nuclear crisis and post-tsunami reconstruction, amid intensifying pressure on him to resign. Kan told a press conference he would step down on condition that a second post-quake reconstruction budget, funding bills and legislation to promote renewable energy are passed first. The appointm ... read more

TEPCO suspends water recycling due to leak

Japan PM adds nuclear, reconstruction posts amid crisis

New Orleans police on trial for post-Katrina killings

Panel urges Japan PM to end nuclear crisis

12 percent of US adults own e-readers: survey

Top US court zaps violent videogame sales ban

BlackBerry maker upbeat on Asian growth markets

Stretching Old Material Yields New Results for Energy

Emissions from energy use in the water sector are poorly understood

Sudan seeks $1 bln in Darfur water-for-peace bid

'Orca ears' inspire Stanford researchers to develop ultrasensitive undersea microphone

Landscape coefficients prove useful for urban water conservation efforts

NASA to embark on last leg of Arctic sea study

Life Between Snowball Earths

Arctic snow harbors deadly assassin

Glaciations may have larger influence on biodiversity than current climate

Deep history of coconuts decoded

Kenya: camel's milk set for boom times

Dairy manure goes urban

Hong Kong tailors tighten belts as wool costs rise

Chile volcano ash cancels two dozen Uruguay flights

Disease alert for Philippine children after floods

Stiff sediments made 2004 Sumatra earthquake deadliest in history

Floods kill 24 as rains pound north Nigeria city

Sudan leader's arrival in China 'delayed'

China hosts Sudan leader wanted by world court

Highway threat to Tanzania Wildebeest migration scrapped

China's power play for Africa alarms U.S.

Researchers find smart decisions for changing environmental times

Can humans sense the Earth's magnetism

Walker's World: Here come the 'age wars'

Family genetic research reveals the speed of human mutation

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement