Sentencing in the Danziger Bridge Massacre
U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt imposed the harshest sentence on Robert Faulcon, who was handed a 65 year term for his involvement in killing two of the victims. Kenneth Bowen and Robert Gisevius got 40 years for their roles in the murders, while Robert Villavaso was sentenced to 38 years. All were New Orleans police officers. Arthur Kaufman was sentenced to six years or his role in transforming the internal investigation into a police cover-up of the crimes. He, too, was a New Orleans police officer.
In court, Lance Madison, the brother of slain Ronald Madison declared "You are the reason I can no longer trust law enforcement." Indeed.
Since I first began blogging on the Danziger Bridge Massacre in 2005, two months after hurricane Katrina, I discussed the incident with many police officers who were both friends and acquantiences. To a man they all believed that the murderers involved would ultimately be vindicated. How is it that police officers can be so blinded by a badge that they cannot discern murder when it is under their very noses? It's disgusting. Shameful. Sad. This is the reason that no intelligent citizen can trust police officers in the United States any longer. They have removed themselves from society, mentally placed themselves in a special place with special privileges and they view citizens as either criminals or criminals in waiting.
"There were many, many New Orleans police officers who performed courageous, selfless acts of heroism in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina," Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez stated. "But regrettably, the acts of heroism of so many have been overshadowed by the misconduct of a few. What we learned in this trial -- what we learned in these convictions -- is that the Constitution never takes a holiday. The Constitution applies every day of every week, and no police officer can take it upon himself or herself to suspend the Constitution."
Those sentenced today were convicted last August on all charges, though a jury somehow found that their actions did not constitute murder. Their seven week trial included testimony from five other former NOPD officers who plead guilty and testified against their former brothers in blue. Thus far, prosecutors have secured eleven convictions in the Danziger Bridge Massacre, from ten NOPD officers to a St. Landry Parish man who impersonated a sheriff's deputy. The Danziger Massacre was a focal point in a series of Justice Department investigations of post-Katrina police wrongdoing that has resulted in a total of fifteen convictions of NOPD officers.
In 2010, three former New Orleans police officers were convicted in the case of Henry Glover, who was murdered and his body burned to conceal the fact. David Warren was convicted of shooting Glover in the back. He was sentenced to more than 25 years in prison in 2011; Gregory McRae, who was found guilty of burning the body, received a 17 plus year sentence. A federal judge has ordered a new trial for the third former police officer Travis McCabe, who was accused of obstructing the investigation. The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division launched an investigation into what it has called "patterns or practices" of misconduct by New Orleans police in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, which killed nearly 1,500 people in Louisiana and more than 1,700 across the Gulf Coast.
Robert Faulcon, Jr.: 6 counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, 3 counts of using a weapon during commission of a crime of violence, 1 count of conspiracy, 2 counts of obstruction of justice, and 1 count of civil rights conspiracy. 65 years imprisonment.
Kenneth Bowen: 6 counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, 2 counts of using a weapon during commission of a crime of violence, 1 count of conspiracy, 2 counts of obstruction of justice, and 1 count of civil rights conspiracy. 40 years imprisonment.
Robert Gisevius, Jr.: 5 counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, 2 counts of using a weapon during commission of a crime of violence, 1 count of conspiracy, 1 count of obstruction of justice, and 2 counts of civil rights conspiracy. 40 years imprisonment.
Anthony Villavaso II: 5 counts of deprivation of rights under color of law, 2 counts of using a weapon during commission of a crime of violence, 1 count of conspiracy, 1 count of obstruction of justice, and 1 count of civil rights conspiracy. 38 years imprisonment.
Arthur Kaufman: 4 counts of falsifying official records in a federal investigation, 3 counts of false statements, 2 counts of civil rights conspiracy for false persecution, and 1 count of conspiracy. 6 years imprisonment.