Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hunter Testifies Police Shot Unarmed Danziger Victims, Kicked Wounded Disabled Man

Jay Martin
Ronald Madison, the 40-year-old disabled man who was killed with
his brother on the Danziger Bridge in 2005 by NOPD officers
following Hurricane Katrina, in a family photo.
More on the Danziger 7 case. My head is reeling and my heart hurts after hearing the latest details in the Danziger Bridge case. A third New Orleans Police officer has been charged in that cover-up, Michael Hunter, 33. He is the first officer to be charged who was actually on the scene and witnessed the shootings on the bridge in 2005 in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath.

Hunter, who says he was the man in charge of making the shootings seem justified, will be sentenced June 30. He faces eight years in prison and possibly a $500,00 fine for his involvement with the cover-up, and he resigned from the force last week "after he was charged in federal court," says the Times Picayune.

According to WWL-TV, Hunter's testimony included his eye witness account of police officers not only shooting victims while they were already on the ground, but also how one officer shot a disabled man in the back and another went over and kicked the victim in the torso repeatedly:

As the cops moved to the top of the bridge, Hunter said Sergeant Gisivius told him he'd been fired at. Hunter said he saw three black men running down the bridge, but they did not appear to have guns or to be a threat to the officers.

Two of those three included Lance Madison and his brother Ronald Madison.
As the officers' vehicle pulled to a stop, Hunter said Officer A, believed to be Robert Faulcon, "Without warning, fired a shotgun at Ronald Madison's back as Madison ran away."

Hunter said as Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old severely disabled man, lay dying on the pavement, Sergeant A, or Kenneth Bowen, ran down the bridge and began stomping on Ronald Madison.

According to Hunter, Bowen "appeared to be striking madison's torso with as much force as he could muster."

Afterwards, Hunter said Bowen approached him and apologized for being "out of line." (WWL TV)
The Danziger 7 includes at least one black officer, Faulcon, the officer believed to have shot Ronald Madison in the back.

The Times Picayune and multiple local news sources further report that even the judge in the case called Hunter's details about what happened on the bridge sickening. Read the Times Picayune's story at NOLA.com, and you may also read Hunter's full factual basis document here.

Hunter's testimony also included his saying that in a meeting later that day about how to cover-up the shooting, someone said, "we don't want this to look like a massacre." From there on, it seems, the officers worked with police investigators to cover up the crime.

The other two officers who have been charged in the federal case are former Lt. Michael Lohman and former Detective Jeffrey Lehrmann. Back in February I wrote about the Danziger 7 Cover-up for BlogHer.com, and anyone who wants to read more history on the case can check there.

Outgoing police chief Warren Riley has been giving interviews and saying the Danziger case is lowering morale in the NOPD, which according to him, is a different force now than it was in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina. He blames the current uptick in crime in New Orleans on officers being afraid to do their jobs because they don't want to be investigated if they have to shoot someone. Riley, while insisting he knew nothing of the Danziger Bridge cover-up, gives off the air of one who thinks his officers have been railroaded or treated unfairly.

Here is more WWL-TV video of family members, including Sherrel Johnson, the mother of James Brissette, the 17-year-old who was shot to death on the bridge.



The Times Picayune has posted "Law and Disorder," a whole section on these shootings during Katrina.

2 comments:

Megan Anne said...

I can't even describe how I feel when I watch/read this in the news.

I'm glad that it's finally being brought to light, but I know that there are many more incidents like this one that we'll never know about.

I don't want to get long-winded (you know me lol), so I'll just say that I love when justice is served.

I hope our new police chief can get rid of the bad cops...no desk duty, either!

ali said...

I agree with Megan. It just cuts through me every time I hear the story about them.