New Orleans Police sentenced for violating civil rights in Katrina aftermath
Four New Orleans police officers were sentenced to 38 to 65 years in prison for convictions including violating the civil rights of two people killed a week after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005.
U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt in New Orleans sentenced a fifth officer today to six years for covering up the crimes.
A federal jury in August convicted officers Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Robert Faulcon and Anthony Villavaso of opening fire on unarmed black civilians on the city’s Danziger Bridge and conspiring with others to cover up their actions. The fifth, homicide detective Arthur “Archie” Kaufman, was convicted of conspiring to make the shootings appear justified.
“We hope that today’s sentences give a measure of peace and closure to the victims of this terrible shooting, who have suffered unspeakable pain and who have waited so patiently for justice to be done,” Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division, said in an e-mailed statement. “The officers who shot innocent people on the bridge and then went to great lengths to cover up their own crimes have finally been held accountable for their actions.”
The civil rights violations caused the deaths of James Brissette and Ronald Madison, the jury found, which meant that the four officers directly involved faced a maximum punishment of life in prison. Bowen was sentenced to 40 years, Faulcon to 65, Gisevius to 40, Villavaso to 38, and Kaufman to six.
Obviously this isn’t a happy ending. But the real question is whether or not these cops were just the tip of the iceberg. There are still a lot of missing people and lots of stories of men in paramilitary uniforms shooting people.