Ex-Cop Pleads Guilty In Hurricane Katrina Killing Probe: 2 Shot, Killed On Danziger Bridge

Huffington Post

Ronald Madison was shot to death on the Danziger Bridge.

NEW ORLEANS — In Hurricane Katrina’s chaotic aftermath, police shot six people – killing two – as they crossed a bridge in search of food. For years the case was a shocking symbol of the confusion and violence that swept through the flooded city. On Wednesday it became a mark of shame for the police department.

As victims’ relatives watched from the courtroom gallery, a retired lieutenant who supervised the department’s probe of the shootings pleaded guilty to orchestrating a cover-up to conceal that police gunned down unarmed civilians.

Michael Lohman, a 21-year veteran of the force, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice. Prosecutors said Lohman and other unidentified officers conspired to fabricate witness statements, falsify reports of the incident and plant a gun in an attempt to make it appear the killings were justified.

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said the investigation is continuing and would not say whether higher-ranking officials of the police department might be involved.

Lohman’s plea brought at least some closure to families of victims in the best-known of several violent incidents that raised questions about police conduct immediately after Katrina. The shootings happened on Sept. 4, 2005, six days after the storm smashed levees and flooded 80 percent of the city.

Survivors have said the officers fired at unarmed people who were crossing to get food at a grocery store. The officers claimed they opened fire only after being shot at. Ronald Madison, 40 and mentally disabled, and James Brissette, 19, were killed and four others were wounded.

“We are very, very happy about the progress that the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department have made,” said Romell Madison, Ronald’s brother. “The people of New Orleans should be relieved that there is still justice for everybody here.”

Lohman’s plea marked the first conviction in the case. Seven officers were charged with murder or attempted murder but a state judge threw out all the charges. Federal authorities then stepped in to investigate.

The federal prosecutor said Lohman is cooperating with investigators who want to know more about the police department’s actions.

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New Orleans: 6 arrested during N30 Reclaim the Streets

Six people were arrested Monday night at the Reclaim The Streets event organized to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the WTO protests that rocked Seattle in 1999.

The event was advertised as a way to call attention to the fact that the same police and prison system that brutalized people at the WTO is also sending New Orleans rappers to prison, and is failing to make our communities safer, while they defend with violence the policies of the WTO around the world. The event was to create a space where these failed institutions that destroy our lives are not allowed to operate. In short, to create a space of freedom and liberation.

The event kicked off when about 40 people began hanging banners, throwing confetti, and launching party streamers over light poles on Canal St., near Royal St. The banners read “Abolish Prisons” and “Free Lil Wayne! Free Lil Boosie! Free All Prisoners!” and they were strung between light poles and the palm trees that line Canal St. A sound system blasted bounce rap from a bike cart, people got in the streets, and the party started!

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