Third NOPD Cop Pleads Guilty to Cover-Up In Katrina Shooting

By Julianne Hing Apr 08, 2010

Michael Hunter, a 33-year-old New Orleans cop, pleaded guilty for his involvement in the cover-up of the fatal shooting incident on Danziger Bridge in New Orleans yesterday. Hunter is just one of seven New Orleans Police Department members who were indicted after the September 4, 2005 incident and a subsequent cover-up, but the first police officer who was actually involved in the shooting to plead guilty. Nobody who’s familiar with the New Orleans Police Department is going to take this news as a sign that justice is just around the corner for the two men who were killed and four other people who were severely injured that day. But it is certainly long overdue. For several years there was a well-orchestrated cover-up of the day’s actual events, but victim and witness accounts say that those who were shot at were unarmed. In 2008, a criminal court judge threw out the case that was being prosecuted at the state level by the Orleans Parish district attorney’s office, which prompted the involvement of the federal government. Five years later, FBI investigators are still trying to piece together the actual timeline of events that day. What most everyone agrees on is that NOPD officers responded to a call near the Danziger Bridge that two police officers had been shot. But everything that unfolded after that is contested by both police and civilians. NOPD says that they were soon were being shot at, and only started shooting after being targeted themselves. Police claimed that Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old man, was armed and shooting at police officers, and that they shot him once. Autopsy reports showed seven gunshot wounds, five in his back. A 19-year-old man named James Brissette was also killed, he too was shot seven times. The four other people who were shot, some at close range, were severely injured, as well. In recent weeks, Lt. Michael Lohman and Jeffrey Lehrmann both plead guilty for organizing the cover-up that followed the shooting. They admitted that they made up false witnesses, inventing a woman named "Lakeisha" to help corroborate their story, planted a gun and fabricated officer accounts in police reports. Unfortunately, the NOPD’s internal investigation relied heavily on these lies. Hunter also admitted that he was involved in plans with fellow police officers to cover up the actual events. As the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports:

At one point, in a meeting with other officers, a supervisor said "something to the effect of, we don’t want this to look like a massacre," the court document says.

Too bad for these police officers, the rest of us knew it for what it was long before they tried to cover their tracks. Stay with us for more updates.