“Grotesque” Prosecutors’ Acts Cited in New Orleans Cop Conviction Reversal


For many New Orleans residents, the day when former police officers were convicted for their roles in gunning down unarmed people on the Danzinger Bridge after Hurricane Katrina marked a cathartic moment. Yesterday, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune, a federal judge toppled those hard-won convictions, not citing faulty evidence, but because of the “grotesque” conduct of prosecutors who never even talked to the jury.

Upending one of the region’s most important civil rights cases in years, U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt granted a new trial for five former New Orleans Police Department officers convicted in the shooting and the subsequent cover-up. Engelhardt pointed to “unprecedented events and acts” that “has taken the court on a legal odyssey unlike any other.” The officers were tried and convicted of civil rights violations for their roles in the Sept. 4, 2005, shooting, following a weeks-long trial in 2011 that included emotional testimony of a man who watched his brother lay dying on the bridge where people had sought shelter days after the storm.

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