On Wednesday the Justice Department announced five former New Orleans police officers were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six to 65 years for the shootings of unarmed civilians in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
On Sept. 4, 2005, a week after Hurricane Katrina, police officers responded to a call that there were two snipers shooting at officers on the Danziger Bridge. According to the Department of Justice, once officers arrived they began shooting into the crowd, killing two men, a teenager named James Brissette and 40-year-old Ronald Madison, a man with mental disabilities. Four others were shot, including Susan Bartholomew, who lost an arm in the shooting.
U.S. District Court Judge Kurt Englehardt imposed long prison sentences on the four officers who were involved in the shooting on the bridge. He sentenced those four officers as follows:
Sergeant Kenneth Bowen was sentenced to 40 years in prison; Sergeant Robert Gisevius was sentenced to 40 years in prison; Officer Robert Faulcon was sentenced to 65 years in prison; and Officer Anthony Villavaso was sentenced to 38 years in prison.
The fifth officer, Sergeant Arthur “Archie” Kaufman, was a supervisor who was not involved in the shooting, but who helped the other officers cover up what they had done. Kaufman was sentenced to six years in prison.
“We hope that today’s sentences give a measure of peace and closure to the victims of this terrible shooting, who have suffered unspeakable pain and who have waited so patiently for justice to be done. The officers who shot innocent people on the bridge and then went to great lengths to cover up their own crimes have finally been held accountable for their actions,”Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez, said in a statement. “As a result of today’s sentencing, the city of New Orleans can take another step forward.”