Officers surrender in Katrina bridge shooting
Seven police officers charged in a deadly bridge shooting in the
chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina turned themselves last week at
the city jail, where at least 200 emotional supporters met them in a
show of solidarity.
Sgt. Robert Gisevius Jr., left, hugs a fellow officer as he and six
other New Orleans police officers turn themselves in at the city
jail in New Orleans Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2007. Seven officers have been
charged in connection with deadly shootings at the Danziger Bridge
during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Each of the indicted men faces at least one charge of murder or
attempted murder in the Sept. 4, 2005, shootings on the Danziger Bridge
less than a week after the hurricane hit New Orleans. Two people died
and four people were wounded.
Defense attorneys say the seven officers are innocent.
As the men arrived at the jail, supporters lined the street, stepping
forward to embrace the seven men and shake their hands.
One protester shouted "Police killings must stop" and "Racism must
go" but was shouted down by the crowd yelling: "Heroes, Heroes."
"These men stayed here to protect our city and protect us and this is
the thanks that is given to them," said Ryan Maher, 34, of New Orleans,
who described himself as a civilian with friends in the police
"It's a serious injustice," said Sgt. Henry Kuhn of the Harahan
Police Department, one of several suburban uniformed officers in the
Sgts. Kenneth Bowen and Robert Gisevius Jr., officer Anthony
Villavaso II and former officer Robert Faulcon Jr., were charged with
first-degree murder. Officers Robert Barrios and Mike Hunter Jr. were
charged with attempted first-degree murder, and Ignatius Hills was
charged with attempted second-degree murder.
A judge said there would be no bail for the four accused of
Bail will be $100,000 per count for the other three officers.
Hunter posted bail Tuesday. Michael Glasser, president of the Police
Association of New Orleans, said the two others couldn't immediately
post bail in part because banks were closed for the national day of
mourning for the late President Ford.
The officers were arraigned Friday.
Defense attorneys said they were assured that the men would be kept
separate from the general population of the jail.
Hills' brother Darren Hills was among those outside the jail Tuesday
"It took everybody by surprise. Totally blindsided by the decision,"
he said of the charges.
A first-degree murder conviction carries a possible death sentence. A
spokesman for District Attorney Eddie Jordan said Tuesday that
prosecutors haven't decided yet whether to seek the death penalty in the
The facts of what happened on the bridge, which links the Industrial
Canal between the Gentilly neighborhood and eastern New Orleans, remain
Police say the officers were responding to a report of other officers
down when they came under fire. Police also say one of the men, Ronald
Madison, was reaching for a gun. Madison, a 40-year-old mentally
retarded man, and James Brissette, 19, were killed on the bridge.
The coroner said Madison was shot seven times, with five wounds in
the back, but the officers' attorneys said all the wounds could have
come from a single shotgun blast.
Madison's brother Lance, who was also on the bridge and was cleared
of attempted murder charges, denies he or his brother was armed.
Six of the officers were suspended without pay pending the outcome of
the case. The seventh, Faulcon, has left the department and is now a
truck driver in Houston, said his attorney, Franz Zibilich.