Four police officers are accused of gunning down two unarmed people in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the latest twist for a corruption-plagued police department that already faces several federal investigations.
The four officers could face the death penalty. They were charged along with two others in a 27-count indictment unsealed on Tuesday.
Five former New Orleans police officers have already pleaded guilty to helping cover up the shootings on the Danziger Bridge that left two men dead and four wounded just days after the August 2005 hurricane.
In one instance, a mentally disabled man was shot in the back and stomped before he died.
Prosecutors say officers fabricated witness statements, falsified reports and planted a gun in an attempt to make it appear the shootings were justified.
It was a shocking example of the violence and confusion that followed the storm.
The case is one of several probes of alleged misconduct by New Orleans police officers that the US Department of Justice opened after the August 2005 storm. Last month, five current or former officers were charged in the shooting death of 31-year-old Henry Glover, whose burned body turned up after Katrina.
With 80 percent of New Orleans underwater, officers from a department with a history of corruption were forced to battle rampant crime, and some became criminals themselves. Dozens of officers were fired or suspended for abandoning their post.
The latest indictments have come shortly after the city’s new mayor replaced its former police chief and invited a Justice Department team to overhaul the police department.
In the bridge shooting case, seven officers were charged with murder or attempted murder in December 2006 but a state judge threw out all the charges in August 2008. Federal authorities then stepped in a month later to launch their own investigation.
So far, five former New Orleans police officers have pleaded guilty to lesser charges of helping cover up the shootings on the Danziger Bridge and await sentencing.
Tuesday’s indictment charges sergeants Robert Gisevius and Kenneth Bowen, officer Anthony Villavaso and former officer Robert Faulcon with deprivation of rights under color of law and use of a weapon during the commission of a crime.
They could face the death penalty if convicted, though US Attorney Jim Letten said prosecutors haven’t decided whether to seek that punishment.
Sergeant. Arthur Kaufman and retired sergeant Gerard Dugue, who helped investigate the shootings, were charged with participating in a cover-up to make it appear the shootings were justified.
‘LIKE A CASSANDRA’: Chinese residents of Prato went into self-imposed lockdown and warned their Italian neighbors about what was coming, but were ignored In the storm of infection and death sweeping Italy, one big community stands out to health officials as remarkably unscathed — the 50,000 ethnic Chinese who live in the town of Prato. Two months ago, the country’s Chinese residents were the target of what Amnesty International described as shameful discrimination, the butt of insults and violent attacks by people who feared that they would spread the coronavirus through Italy. However, in the Tuscan town of Prato, home to Italy’s single biggest Chinese community, the opposite has been true. Once scapegoats, they are now held up by authorities as a model for early,
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,