New Orleans police officers Sgt. Robert Gisevius and Sgt. Arthur Kaufman have received letters stating they are targets of the federal investigation into the killings on the Danziger Bridge in the wake of hurricane Katrina. Gisevius is accused of being one of the shooters. There is not yet any word whether the other officers involved have been notified they are targets of the federal investigation, but the bill of information against Lohman is clear that others wil be charged. It is quite possible the Feds are waiting to see if the news of Lohman's plea bargain and cooperation will turn another witness, perhaps one who was present at the scene of the killings.
Six civilians were shot by police officers on the bridge on Sept. 4, 2005. Two of them, Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old man with the mental capacity of a child, and 19-year-old James Brissette were killed. The other civilians were severely wounded. Police officers were responding to a report that snipers were firing at helicopters from the bridge. This report was later shown to be untrue.
"In any circumstance, that's a critical call, a high-risk call," Eric Hessler, the attorney representing Gisevius stated. "It raises your adrenaline, it automatically puts you in fear for your life. And when you are responding to that call in the midst of Katrina, when all kinds of misinformation is being given out, you are certainly going to be in a heightened state."
"I can assure you, when my client left the back of that box vehicle, there was gunfire all over," Hessler claimed. "And in that situation, he is reasonably fearing for his life."
Sgt. Kaufman was one of the lead investigators assigned to get to the truth of what happened on the Danziger bridge. The investigation claimed the shooting was justifiable. Federal prosecutors are now describing the investigation as "corrupt." Last August, the FBI conducted a surprise search of Kaufman's office and seized files and computer hard drives. The New Orleans police has maintained that the officers involved only fired upon the group of civilians when they themselves were fired upon. Charges against the seven officers involved in the shooting were dismissed on a technicality by Criminal District Court Judge Raymond Bigelow in August, 2008.
This week, the FBI confirmed they are also investigating the police shooting of a 41-year-old Connecticut man in the Faubourg Marigny five days after Katrina, and the NOPD acknowledges the agency has received federal subpoenas for documents related to two other post-Katrina police shootings.
Labels: Danziger Bridge