New Orleans Activists Want Feds To Get Real About NOPD Misconduct

By Julianne Hing Apr 22, 2010

Community United for Change, a new coalition of New Orleans-based grassroots groups, is convening a public hearing tonight to collect testimony of people’s experiences of police brutality with New Orleans Police Department officers. The coalition will deliver transcripts of the hearing to the U.S. Department of Justice as part of its effort to force the DOJ to expand its probe of NOPD misconduct. Currently, the FBI is investigating eight individual cases of NOPD misconduct that include police brutality, lethal shootings and cover-ups. But Robert Goodman, an organizer with Safe Streets/Strong Communities, says that there are many more cases of police brutality that the department is trying to quietly ignore. Goodman’s brother, Ronald, was killed by police officers in May of 2006, in his family’s home in Algiers. Like Ronald Madison, one of the two men who was killed by NOPD in the much-publicized Danziger Bridge shooting, Ronald Goodman also suffered from a mentally disability. Both men were shot in the back multiple times. Though police initially denied it, autopsy reports eventually showed that Ronald Madison was shot in the back five times. Robert Goodman says his brother Ronald was shot in the back of the head three times. The killing and subsequent cover-up of Madison’s death has led to public outrage and an aggressive FBI investigation. Last week Officer Robert Barrios, was charged with one count of conspiring to obstruct justice in the Danziger Bridge shootings. Barrios was the fourth cop to be charged with the cover-up of the police shootings; the three other police officers that were charged have all pleaded guilty. A state court threw out the cops’ murder charges in 2008. But Goodman says that the Danziger Bridge shootings are not an anomaly. CUC wants the feds to investigate a 30-year pattern of abuse. "Look at what happened with the Danziger case," Goodman said. "They keep covering up a high-profile case, but a case like my brother’s, it’s easier to cover up." Police classified Ronald Goodman’s death as a justifiable homicide. Last week, Thomas Perez, the Assistant Attorney General suggested that civil lawsuit against the city may be necessary to bring the New Orleans police department to justice. Perez told TPMMuckraker:

"I’m very, very disturbed by the allegation we’re investigating . . . We certainly intend to use every law enforcement tool at our disposal to ensure that wrongdoing is uncovered and that in the long-term systems are put into place to prevent these problems from happening."

Tonight’s hearing will be held at the St. James AME Fellowship Hall on 219 North Derbigny Street at 6pm.