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Vol. 74/No. 29      August 2, 2010

New Orleans cops indicted for
Hurricane Katrina shootings
(front page)
A federal grand jury indicted five current and one former New Orleans cop July 12. Four of the men are charged with shooting six unarmed civilians, killing two, in September 2005, during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. All six are charged with covering up the crimes. U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, appointed by George W. Bush, announced the charges.

The indictments and ongoing investigations show a pattern of brutality carried out by New Orleans police officers and concealed by their superiors. Five former officers have already pled guilty to covering up the shootings and are cooperating with the prosecution.

Since February federal prosecutors have charged 16 current and former New Orleans cops for crimes in the days after Katrina. The most recent indictments are part of an investigation of at least 10 shootings by police in which four people were killed.  
Danziger Bridge shootings
In the latest indictments, Sgt. Kenneth Bowen, Sgt. Robert Gisevius, Officer Anthony Villavaso, and former cop Robert Faulcon are accused of killing James Brisette, a 17-year-old Black man, and shooting four members of his family on the Danziger Bridge.

Susan and Leonard Bartholomew said they were walking to the grocery store with their two children and nephew, Brisette, when a Budget rental truck pulled up and men inside began firing on them. Brisette was shot six times in the torso, Susan Bartholomew’s arm was partially blown off, and her husband was shot in the head. The Bartholomew’s daughter was shot four times. The men in the truck turned out to be cops.

Faulcon, who is Black, is also accused of shooting a mentally handicapped 40-year-old Black man, Ronald Madison. Bowen is accused of kicking and stomping Madison as he lay dying.

Madison was with his brother Lance walking across the bridge to check on the dental office of their older brother Romell. They heard gunshots and ran. Faulcon shot Ronald Madison seven times in the back. Lance Madison was arrested and charged with attempted murder of the police. He was jailed for three weeks before he was released without being charged.

In a statement, Romell Madison said, “Our family has waited a long time for justice in this case.” He later said that he wasn’t interested in seeing the officers receive the death penalty.

Two other members of the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), Sgt. Arthur Kaufman and retired Sgt. Gerard Dugue, are charged with helping to cover up the shootings by manufacturing witnesses, fabricating police statements, and planting a gun.

On July 16 a judge ruled that Bowen, Gisevius and Villavaso will remain in jail and not be granted bond. The officers have twice beaten state charges in the shootings. The FBI arrested Faulcon in Texas July 13.

Last month five other police were charged for shooting and setting on fire a 31-year-old Black man, Henry Glover, during the Katrina crisis. Glover was shot by a cop as he walked near a strip mall.

When Glover’s brother and another man sought help for him at NOPD’s SWAT unit compound, set up at a local elementary school, they were beaten and accused of being looters. The police took their car with Glover in the back and drove off. The scorched car was later found behind a police station and Glover’s burnt remains were found weeks later.

Danny Brumfield, a 45-year-old Black man was shot and killed by police as he tried to get assistance at the Convention Center, which was being used as a shelter. Police claim he brandished a pair of scissors at them as he approached their car. After shooting Brumfield in the back, the cops simply drove off.

Other cases include Keenan McCann, a Black man shot five times by police as he attempted to get water from a truck. He survived. After leaving the hospital, a warrant was issued for his arrest for threatening police with a gun. He was never formally charged. Matthew McDonald, a Caucasian, was shot in the back and killed by police, who claimed they saw a gun in his bag. McDonald’s family was not told he was killed by cops until four years later when a reporter contacted them about the investigation into his death.  
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