Danziger Five Accept Vastly Reduced Prison Sentences!
Egregious prosecutorial conduct was the causal factor in the sentence reduction. The five former New Orleans police officers involved in the fatal shooting spree in the crazy aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on the now infamous Danziger Bridge received major reductions in their draconian original sentences. U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt agreed to accept the new terms and immediately sentenced the five men before a full courtroom and their victims.
In 2013, Engelhardt launched an investigation into the online postings of then U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s office. He determined that grotesque prosecutorial misconduct had occurred. In August, a federal appeals court upheld his ruling, and the full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to hear the case.
The five men accepted much shorter sentences. They were guilty of horrible crimes like planting drop guns to make the unarmed victims seem armed and shooting repeatedly at unarmed victims. They deserved long sentences but the mistakes by prosecutors saved their necks. This is imperfect justice! However, there is a silver lining here. The long awaited civil trials can proceed now. That’s a very good thing.
The five men saw their sentences reduced from 40 to 10 years; 65 to 12 years; 40 to 10 years; 38 to 7 years; and 6 to 3 years. Here’s the gist of what occurred on that bridge 11 years ago. A group of cops drove up to the bridge in a commandeered rental truck, responding to a report of officers down and a loose description of a suspect. They fired a barrage of bullets from their personal weapons and service revolvers at a group of fleeing people, them falsely accused them of being armed, according to their 2011 trial testimony.
Kaufman, then a homicide detective, was accused of orchestrating a group whitewash, including failing to collect evidence, the planting of a clean gun and the creation of a false report that included testimony from made up witnesses that stated that one of the civilians on the bridge, Lance Madison, had tossed a gun into the canal. This was entirely false. Madison lost a brother on that bridge that day, and he was accused of trying to kill the cops. More manufactured baloney.
Bowen, Faulcon, Gisevius and Villavaso all could have received life prison terms. The cops pleaded guilty to depriving the innocent shooting victims of their rights under color of law, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Kaufman also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to falsifying evidence, to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice.
U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite had this to say about this case- while this is certainly an imperfect resolution, today’s proceeding ensures that these five defendants will be held accountable for their criminal actions. For these families and these victims, this case was never about one singular concept. It was about accountability. Nothing more, and most certainly nothing less.