U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday announced the indictment
of six current or former New Orleans Police Department officers in
connection to the Danziger Bridge shootings, which occurred during the
aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The new indictments stem from the shooting of six civilians on Sept. 4,
2005 by a squad of police officers, a bloody episode that left two
people dead and four severely wounded. Our partners at the New
Orleans Times-Picayune have the details on the fresh charges here.
The troubled New Orleans police force -- which is the subject of at
least eight ongoing investigations -- "is a priority for this Department
of Justice," said Holder in a press conference streamed live on local TV
Since February, federal prosecutors have charged 16 current and former
cops for offenses allegedly committed during the chaotic days after the
levees failed, inundating the city and crippling the local government.
So far, five have pleaded guilty.
Last month, federal investigators charged an officer with murdering Henry Glover,
an offense that could carry the death penalty, and others with torching
Glover's body and attempting to conceal the crime. Federal agents are
also scrutinizing several other post-Katrina episodes, including the
shootings of Keenon
Brumfield, Jr., and Matthew
McDonald by cops.
One of the people indicted today played a role in several of these
cases. Former NOPD Sergeant Gerard Dugue, who is accused of trying to
cover up the true circumstances of the Danziger shootings, also
investigated Glover's death and supervised the police department's probe
into the killing of Brumfield, who died after being shot in the back at
a close-range. This spring Dugue retired from his job as a homicide
The Justice Department is also conducting a broader survey of the
police force's policies, which could lead to federally supervised reform
and restructuring of the department. In May, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who
was elected earlier this year, invited
Justice to conduct the review, saying in a letter that "I have
inherited what is described by many as one of the worst police
departments in the country."