23 July 2010
(NNPA) - The Justice Department has announced indictments for six New Orleans police officers in connection with a fatal shooting and subsequent cover-up in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
As the result of an investigation launched in May by the U. S. Department of Justice, six officers face charges of federal civil rights law violations in the shooting deaths of two unarmed civilians.
The 27-count indictment handed up by a federal grand jury in Louisiana alleges how 17 year old James Brisette was killed and four members of his family wounded and how 40-year-old Ronald Madison was killed along the Danziger Bridge in eastern New Orleans. Police department supervisors Arthur Kaufman and the now-retired Gerard Dugue who helped investigate the shootings were charged with participating in a cover-up. Kaufman faces up to 120 years in prison and Dugue faces a maximum sentence of 70 years in prison.
The officers had responded to the Danziger Bridge just a few days after the hurricane hit following reports of looting and someone shooting at other officers. Minutes later, the officers then allegedly shot at two brothers, including Madison, who was mentally disabled, and then allegedly kicked the man repeatedly. Madison was pronounced dead at the scene. We are pleased to see that the investigations have progressed to the point that they have," Danatus King, president of the New Orleans Chapter of the NAACP, told the AFRO.
"Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration deserve a lot of credit," said Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League and former New Orleans mayor. " These are a very important set of charges that demonstrates that this administration cares about the issue of police brutality."
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement issued July 13 that his department is working with officials in New Orleans to restore residents' trust in the police department.
"Put simply, we will not tolerate wrongdoing by those who are sworn to protect the public," Holder said in the statement.
King said," The New Orleans community has known for a while about credibility problems surrounding the police department.
He said, "We've called for an investigation concerning allegations of police conduct before Katrina and it's good now that we've gotten to the point of getting outside help from the Justice Department."