Jury Convicts NOLA Police of Cover-Up in Post-Katrina Shootings

A New Orleans jury has convicted five former police officers of charges related to their unjustified shooting of six unarmed people and attempt to create a cover-up in two incidents on the Danziger Bridge in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Two of the shooting victims died, including a 17 year old and a 40 year old man who was severely mentally disabled. One woman lost her arm.

Four of the shooting victims were from one family. None were armed and they were crossing the bridge looking for food when police opened fire. Not long after, police shot at two unarmed brothers who were also walking on the bridge looking for food. The 40 year old disabled brother was shot seven times in the back.

At trial, lawyers for the cops claimed they were fired on first and feared for their lives. Not so. One of the cops, Retired Sgt. Arthur Kaufman, who was assigned to investigate the shootings, staged the cover-up for the other cops, using his own gun. He was also convicted today. [More...]

Kaufman claimed to have found a gun - which he had actually taken from his own home - on the bridge the day after the shooting. He also invented fictional witnesses and witness statements to justify the officer's actions. He faces a maximum sentence of 120 years in prison.

Kaufman was convicted of ten counts related to the cover-up, "including conspiracy, obstruction of justice, fabricating witnesses, falsifying victim statements, misleading federal investigators and falsifying evidence."

Even though none of the cops were convicted of murder, the cover-up and civil rights counts on which they were convicted carry hefty sentences. Some face multiple life sentences. Reuters reports that had they been convicted of murder, they would have faced mandatory life sentences without parole.

This is not the only case. In all, more than 20 NOLA officers have been charged in corruption and brutality cases. Here's a summary of the cases. In March, the Justice Department issued a report on the systemic abuses of the NOLA police:

Among the findings are that the police department has used excessive force, made unconstitutional stops and searches, and illegally profiled people based on race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. The investigation also found a number of practices that contributed to the illegal conduct, including failed systems for recruiting and promoting officers, poor training and lack of supervision, among others.

Reuters also reports:

The federal government spent nearly three years mounting its case against the officers after state indictments related to the incident were quashed in 2008 due to errors by the district attorney's office.

Here's the DOJ's 2010 press release on the Indictment. Here are some details of the state's unsuccessful 2006 case.

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  • Display: Sort:
    As they always say ... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Peter G on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 01:17:37 AM EST
    it's the coverup that gets you.  Just ask Richard Nixon.

    This has taken a long time (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 03:30:02 AM EST
    to unwind.  We had just moved here when Katrina happened.  I felt traumatized as the horror of Katrina unfolded.  We had planned a weekend in New Orleans that weekend, so went to Savannah instead to take a break and when we got home it was shocking what was going on.

    As time wore on, I began to feel like the police department here was here more to harass people and make them feel afraid than it was here to protect and serve.  More time went by and I discovered that to be a police officer here only an 8 week training is required and formal criminal justice education isn't a must.  Where I had lived before, usually some kind of formal criminal justice education was required, spotless personal records with a zero tolerance for any kind family violence, and training for the job itself was never anything as short as 8 weeks.

    I wonder if having such poorly trained unaccountable police forces is a Southern tradition just as the schools hitting the children whenever they want to without any oversight or accountability seems to be.

    Oh please (none / 0) (#8)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 09:41:14 AM EST
    MT you never miss a chance to beat up on the South. I confess it becomes boring.

    Police brutality is not limited to the South. Check out some of the things done in NYC, Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles.


    Jim, I don't care if you think it is (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 10:22:00 AM EST
    boring.  I live here and some of the things that are a "tradition" down here are simply dysfunctional, shame based, and damage people on a core level and are therefore EVIL.

    You wait, it won't be long before there is a serious movement in the South to get rid of this beating kids in school.  Too many of us Yankees are having to move down here for economic reasons. It does make good future Nazis though if you beat into submission at an early age.  I say that as someone from a predominantly German heritage who has read a lot on how a society can enable what Germany did and strict "discipline" from an early age is a key component.

    The problem with the Southern fried police officers will probably take more work because doesn't it always when a police force must be made accountable?


    No Tracy (2.00 / 1) (#15)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 11:41:39 AM EST
    The South is America, just as NYC, Chicago, Denver, LA, etc., is. There is no tradition that says police beat people or that children are beaten, etc., etc.

    Me thinks you protest way too much and while you are welcome to your opinion I find your continual condemning of a Region based on the actions of one or two just as bad as I do people condemning NYC because of the actions of some police.

    Just sign me, "American by birth and Southerner by the grace of God."

    And that nasty smell you seem to find on all things around you may be coming from your upper lip.

    Sorry, but I just had to say that.


    I don't think I'm the one (none / 0) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 12:06:01 PM EST
    down here who needs a lecture on how the South is a part of America :)

    Tracy, I love ya (none / 0) (#22)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 08:26:33 PM EST
    and have a lot of empathy for any military wife. I watched mine, and her friends, run their homes and raise the kids while I and other husbands deployed. It was a difficult and often unrewarding task.

    But the South you describe isn't the South I know and you don't provide any links.

    And if you know of any school kids being beaten in school, call the local DA. I'm sure he will be interested.

    I don't know how the Army works, but in the Navy you were moved around from time to time and if you had some seniority you could have some input.

    Why don't you just move?


    Read her comment again. (none / 0) (#24)
    by Chuck0 on Mon Aug 08, 2011 at 10:17:07 AM EST
    She didn't say police brutality is limited to the south. What she did ASK, was is poor training and low standards the usual for the south. I would say it is. Look at all the dumb ass good ole boy sheriffs down south.

    so when is (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 01:44:54 AM EST
    harry connick sr. going to be impeached?

    Did the law enforcment (none / 0) (#4)
    by oculus on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 03:35:52 AM EST
    Who shot the people on the bridge initially state they were ordered to stop people?

    The racism (none / 0) (#5)
    by lentinel on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 06:43:46 AM EST
    that took place during Katrina and its aftermath makes me think that in a real sense nothing much has happened since the late fifties.

    And that goes for the Federal government as well as the local one.

    And that goes for now as well as then.

    Site Violation - Spam (none / 0) (#9)
    by MO Blue on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 09:50:58 AM EST
    Something tells me that this might just be spam but spammer forgot the link.

    i don't think this is even (none / 0) (#12)
    by cpinva on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 11:23:13 AM EST
    competent spam. done in a language(?) i doubt more than one person here can read, if that many.

    murder? (none / 0) (#14)
    by Lil on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 11:40:26 AM EST
    What I'm curious about is how this wasn't considered murder?

    The jury apprarently concluded (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Peter G on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 04:24:01 PM EST
    after hearing all the evidence for both sides at trial, that there was at least a reasonable doubt that the defendants sincerely believed (however wrongly) that they were justified in responding with deadly force to what they believed was an attack on fellow officers.  Upon discovering that they had been totally wrong, they proceeded to engineer a vile and complex coverup conspiracy.  TalkLeft readers should support the verdicts of acquittal by the jury, just as we would for Casey Anthony, O.J. Simpson, or any other accused person who enjoys a presumption of innocence on each and every charge leveled by a prosecutor and who likewise enjoys the right to trial by jury and the finality of any acquittal. These defendants should be fairly sentenced for what they were convicted of, and for nothing else.

    fairly??? (none / 0) (#20)
    by diogenes on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 06:41:30 PM EST
    "These defendants should be fairly sentenced for what they were convicted of, and for nothing else."

    Let's settle for saying that the defendants should be sentenced for what they convicted of and that keeping a fair criminal justice system going requires having certain miscarriages of justice to slip through.


    See the Reuters link provided (n/t) (none / 0) (#18)
    by Towanda on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 01:39:02 PM EST
    im in the north (none / 0) (#21)
    by pitachips on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 07:43:51 PM EST
    chicago specifically. i've spent some time in the south as well and i honestly don't think there is much of a difference. if you're poor, or black/hispanic etc, then you're definitely playing under a different set of rules of engagement.

    These cops (none / 0) (#23)
    by Chuck0 on Mon Aug 08, 2011 at 10:13:58 AM EST
    are why so-called law enforcement want a disarmed populace in times of calamity. They get to do as they please and concoct the story after the fact. Katrina, IMO, makes the case for a well armed populace, if for nothing else, to defend itself from the so-called "authorities" during such calamities. You can trust no one other than yourself during trying times.

    SITE VIOLATOR (none / 0) (#26)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 09:23:07 PM EST