NEW ORLEANS – New Orleans Mayor Mitch
Landrieu announced on Dec. 19 that the City of New Orleans has
settled all criminal and civil lawsuits brought by victims of police
violence right around the time of Hurricane Katrina.
the Associated Press, litigation of all the cases, both civil and
criminal, was protracted because there were 17 plaintiffs in the
civil cases, which couldn’t be settled until the criminal matters
Following a private prayer service, Landrieu
announced $13.3 million in settlement amounts. He also apologized to
the families of the victims on behalf of the City of New Orleans.
Sept. 4, 2005, a few days after the hurricane made landfall, police
officers shot six people – killing two of them – on the Danziger
Bridge. According to cnn.com, the officers, per initial accounts,
were checking on reports of gunshots at that location. James
Brissette, 17, and Ronald Madison, 40, were fatally shot in the
incident and were among a crowd of unarmed individuals on the bridge.
The other four shooting victims were seriously wounded.
of Justice Department investigations followed, with cover-ups and
falsified evidence alleged. U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt threw
out five of the convictions of police officers in 2013. In April
2016, according to the Associated Press, former New Orleans police
officers Kenneth Bowen, Robert Faulcon Jr., Robert Gisevius Jr.,
Arthur Kaufman and Anthony Villavaso II pleaded guilty to three
counts each: deprivation of rights under color of law, conspiracy to
obstruct justice, and obstruction of justice by engaging in
Kaufman originally was sentenced to six years, while the other officers were sentenced to more than 30 years each.
However, the ex-officers could be released
from prison within the next several years under the plea deal.
a separate incident, five police officers were tried in the shooting
death of 31-year-old Henry Glover. One officer, Gregory McRae, is
serving 11 years, per the Associated Press. McRae burned Glover's
Another officer, David Warren, was
convicted of manslaughter in the incident, while Travis McCabe was
found guilty of composing a false report, according to a December
2010 article on www.nola.com. Two
other officers, Robert Italiano and Dwayne Scheuermann, were
Three years ago, according to
was acquitted during a retrial after an appeals court tossed out his
In another incident, Raymond Robair,
48, was beaten to death by an officer and died a few weeks before the
hurricane, according to the Associated Press. Melvin Williams, the
officer who beat and kicked Robair and then claimed the man was
having a drug overdose, was eventually sentenced to at least 21 years
in prison, while recruit Matthew Dean Moore was sentenced to at least
five years for lying to the FBI and handing in a falsified
William Quigley, professor of law at Loyola University in
New Orleans, thinks that the stress of Hurricane Katrina had
far-reaching effects on the entire community, including
“Most people believe these killings
were the result of both a very serious lack of accountability in the
NOPD before Katrina plus the inhuman stress, which the hurricane
placed on everyone in our community,” Quigley told the Louisiana
Quigley believes race was a factor in the killings.
“Does anyone think these NOPD officers set out to kill black
people? Most people would say no,” Quigley said. “However, yes,
these killings were racially motivated in the sense that white people
who conducted themselves in the same way as these people would not
have been shot.”
However, Quigley has seen an improvement in the
levels of violence since 2005.
“Since the U.S. Department of
Justice has started oversight of the NOPD and the city, the levels of
unconstitutional violence have decreased,” Quigley said.
added that accountability for police violence has been elevated
nationally by the Black Lives Matter movement, with more people being
educated on the matter.