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Charges dismissed against police in post-Katrina shootings

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  • Charges dismissed against police in post-Katrina shootings

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/08/13/danziger.seven/

    Charges dismissed against police in post-Katrina shootings

    NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- A judge dismissed all charges Wednesday against six police officers and a former officer who'd been accused of shooting unarmed civilians, two of them fatally, at a New Orleans bridge days after Hurricane Katrina.

    In dismissing the charges, Criminal District Judge Raymond Bigelow said three of the defendants were forced to testify before the grand jury that went on to indict them and the other four.

    State law says that "no testimony or other information compelled under the order, or any information directly or indirectly derived from such testimony or other information, may be used against the witness in any criminal case," the judge noted.

    The judge said he reached "the inescapable conclusion that the state improperly used the testimony of these officers to indict them as well as the others."

    He also cited testimony in which a police lieutenant said he had been shown one of the defendant's grand jury testimony.

    The state plans to appeal, the clerk of the court said.

    The shootings of September 4, 2005, the Sunday after Hurricane Katrina struck, killed two men and wounded four other people who were were trying to evacuate by crossing the Danziger Bridge over the Industrial Canal.

    The officers had gone to the bridge because of reports that rescue workers heard gunfire and an officer had been wounded.

    Police said officers shot only after being shot at, though some evidence contradicted that assertion.

    Killed were Ronald Madison, 40, and James Brissette, 19.

    Bigelow threw out indictments against Sgts. Kenneth Bowen and Robert Gisevius Jr., Officer Anthony Villavaso II and former Officer Robert Faulcon Jr., who were facing first-degree murder and attempted murder charges.

    Bigelow also threw out attempted first-degree murder charges against Officers Mike Hunter Jr. and Robert Barrios and attempted second-degree murder charges against Officer Ignatius Hills.
    What is Perseverance?
    -Perseverance is commitment, hard work, patience, endurance.
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  • #2
    I do not think anyone knows what really happened. I certainly would not have wanted to have to do those officers' job.
    Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
    Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

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    • #3
      Originally posted by DAL View Post
      I do not think anyone knows what really happened. I certainly would not have wanted to have to do those officers' job.
      Me either. In that type of situation, like our troops in Iraq and Afganistan or any other combat zone, I really don't see how someone can fairly judge them unless they were there. For example, the Marine who shot and killed the wounded terrorist in the mosque in Iraq in 2003. He'd just witnessed 2 - 3 of his comrades be killed by a wounded terrorist who had been holding a fragmentation grenade just waiting for the opportunity to take one or more "infidels" with him. In my opinion, the press shouldn't have been anywhere NEAR the combat zone in the first place.

      In the case involving the NOPD officers, who can say exactly what happened? Nobody as far as I can see. The officers knew what they was from their perspectives and perceived that the individuals who they fired on and hit had fired on them first. I've seen more than one video (and interviewed more than one witness) that saw only one perspective, the one they could record or see respectively. A video camera or witness at a different location will see a different perspective completely.

      How many times have people been inadvertently shot and killed because an officer perceived that they posed a deadly threat to them, when in actuality it turned out that they weren't. For example, in the dark a garden hose held in one's hand looks exactly like a shotgun barrel, and it doesn't have to be that dark either. I've seen some cell phone silhouettes that looked just like a handgun in someone's hand in low light. I've drawn down on more than one individual who I was covering for answering their flip type cell phones that had been on vibrate. Fortunately I've always had a light and could identify what they had, but sometimes officers don't have a light with them, i.e. they work day shift and are clearing a building that's not lit very well, if at all. Should officers carry a compact light even when they work plain clothes or day shift only? I believe they should. Do they? No, they often don't.

      Sometimes bad things just happen, and that's life in our imperfect world.

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      • #4
        I was taught in the basic academy that Police Officers were supposed to be judged in use of force cases in a light that all people making a decision on wheter an officer acted appropriately needed to be based on a "objective observation keeping in mind that hindsight is 20/20, therefore looked at from the eyes of the officer not a nontrained nonknowing citizen having the benefit of hindsight. I imagine the kaotic aftermath of Katrina turning Louisiana into a third world country would not be the ideal place to be a police officer with what they had to deal with. Having said that after almost 15 years I have rarely seen on officer go on the chopping block of an internal investigation and been judged the way they told us in the academy was the correct way without the benefit of hindsight and I do not see it ever going to change and one of the major negative aspects of our career field. We can not only loose our jobs based on monday morning quarterbacking we can also loose our freedom.
        "Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. The MARINES don't have that problem." ....Ronald Reagan

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