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by Peter Moskos

April 20, 2016

"New Orleans Police Officers Plead Guilty in Shooting of Civilians"

From the Times:
The guilty pleas, which drew prison terms from three to 12 years, were the latest development in a wrenching 10-year saga that began when police officers responding to a distress call on the Danziger Bridge on Sept. 4, 2005, opened fire on unarmed residents, killing two and injuring four.
Under the terms of Wednesday’s deal, the four officers involved in the shooting received sentences ranging from seven to 12 years, with credit for time served. The fifth man, Mr. Kaufman, who was accused in the cover-up, got three years.
The victims, in a city still without order and drowning in floodwaters, were crossing the bridge in search of food or relatives when police officers rushed to the scene in a rental truck. The officers opened fire with shotguns and AK-47s, leaving four people severely injured and two dead: 17-year-old James Brisette, and Mr. Madison, a 40-year-old developmentally disabled man who took a shotgun blast in the back.
But other officers who had pleaded guilty testified that defendants had fired without warning, stomped on the dying and immediately afterward began to construct what would become an extensive cover-up.
In 2010 I asked Dan Baum for his general thoughts and posted about New Orleans after the flood. He wrote, in part:
What I saw of the police during the storm were heroic officers operating with no leadership or resources whatsoever. The cops I was with were protecting and serving under incredibly trying conditions, and doing so with professionalism and compassion. That they were cut adrift from any command or support was obvious; Eddie Compass (and Ray Nagin) were ... criminally incompetent.
Everyplace I was, people were taking care of each other with unbelievable tenderness.... I never once saw a black man with a gun who was not in uniform.
I say all this because for the NOPD to say, "we had to do what we did because the city was in chaos" is patent bullshit and disgraces the majority of officers, who did their jobs without any support at all. There was no chaos. The structure of government disappeared, and the people behaved themselves admirably.
We now are learning about some of the things bad cops did. And it's certainly true that a small number of civilians did bad things during Katrina. But the vast majority, cop and civilian alike, behaved exactly as we would hope they would.

1 comment:

john mosby said...

Toward then end of the article is an interesting bit in which the sentencing judge criticizes the prosecution for its use of cooperating witnesses to leverage plea deals and rails against the mandatory minimum sentences. The NYT declines to elaborate.

Do we know anything else about this? Is the judge essentially saying "you railroaded these guys, but they pled guilty, so I can't really do anything about it?"