Danziger Bridge Trial in Mid Swing
This is some heavy duty trial in a city used to very heavy duty, bruising trials, such as the Glover case. As with the Glover case, Attorney General Jim Letten is the man doing the heavy lifting. After years had passed, Jim Letten comes along, dusts off 4 year old cases, and finds the witnesses he needs to convict. That is some A.G. Our collective hats off to Jim Letten, man on a mission. He has 5 on trial. They are accused of shooting unarmed New Orleanians in the back, among the different charges. The very definition of blockbuster!
Letten has turned 5 former or current NOPD Officers, who are a substantial part of the prosecution’s case, and all will be testifying. Much of this testimony will be riveting, as these former Officers will be discussing just how the murders and coverup occurred. Many of these former cops have testified numerous times before, and should be good solid witnesses.
Also testifying will be the shooting victims who survived. These are just folks like you and me, who were in the wrong place at the wrong time and got shot by the cops a few days after Katrina.
Here’s some riveting testimony from the trial:
Former NOPD officer Ignatius Hills described the scene Thursday as New Orleans police officers approached the Danziger Bridge in a rental truck days after Hurricane Katrina, thinking there were officers in need of assistance.
“It was tense. There wasn’t much talking at all,” Hills said. He testified that when they got to the bridge he heard shots coming from the exterior, passenger side of the truck and said it sounded like an AK-47.
Hills said he did not get out of the truck right away, but he eventually fired his weapon aiming for a man he saw.
“Did he pose a threat to you?” asked prosecutor Theodore Carter.
“No,” Hills replied.
“Did he threaten you?” Carter asked.
“No,” Hills replied.
“Was it a justified shooting?” Carter asked.
“No,” Hills said again.
WOW!! I really feel for the families on both sides. After carrying this around for half a decade, the surviving victims got to confront their tormentors in open court. The families of the charged NOPD Officers- how hard is it for them? Tough, tough really tough!!
Is this difficult for the rank and file NOPD, their Officers, and top management? Talk about convulsing situations!!
James Brissette Jr., 17 – killed
Ronald Madison, 40 – killed
Susan Bartholomew – wounded
Leonard Bartholomew III – wounded
Lesha Bartholomew, 17 – wounded
Jose Holmes, 19 – wounded
Five current or former New Orleans police officers are on trial, accused of shooting and killing unarmed people on the Danziger Bridge in the days following Hurricane Katrina. Four of the officers set to stand trail were on the bridge on Sept. 4, 2005, and they face the most serious charges. These officers are Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Anthony Villavaso and Robert Faulcon.
The four are charged with crimes such as using a weapon during the commission of a crime, conspiracy to violate people’s civil rights and deprivation of rights under color of law, one of the federal government’s highest crimes and an offense punishable by life in jail.
All four officers have been in jail since they were indicted last summer. Bowen, Gisevius and Villavaso are still New Orleans police officers, currently suspended without pay. Faulcon left the department in 2005 after the storm. Federal prosecutors say the officers opened fire on on unarmed civilians. Attorneys for the officers say were fired on and had to respond.
The fifth officer set to stand trial is longtime homicide detective Archie Kaufman. Kaufman was not on the bridge but helped investigate the incident months after the fact. Prosecutors say Kaufman made up evidence, obstructed justice and lied to FBI agents.
The defendants are being tried together, but the jury will deliver a verdict on each individual count. That means that as with the high-profile Henry Glover trial that ended last December, the jury can find some officers guilty and others not guilty based on what they hear at trial.