Only 6-7 Post-Katrina Homicides Confirmed In New Orleans


The New York Times offers its version of the story of exaggerated New Orleans crime reports after Hurricane Katrina. It is impossible to say if the city experienced a wave of murder because autopsies have been performed on only about 10 percent of the 885 dead. Yesterday, state health official Dr. Louis Cataldie said that only six or seven deaths appear to have been the result of homicides. Police Superintendent Edwin Compass resigned Tuesday as he was coming under criticism from The New Orleans Times-Picayune, which had questioned many of his public accounts of extreme violence. The Times-Picayune said today that Compass told associates he was fired by Mayor Ray Nagin. Compass admitted to the Times last week that some of his most shocking statements turned out to be untrue. Asked about reports of rapes and murders, he said: “We have no official reports to document any murder. Not one official report of rape or sexual assault.”

A full chronicle of the hurricane week’s crimes may never be possible because many basic functions of government ceased early in the week, including most public safety record-keeping. 911 operators left their phones when water began to rise around their building. To assemble a picture of crime, the Times interviewed dozens of evacuees in four cities, police officers, medical workers, and city officials. Many provided firsthand accounts; others passed along secondhand information or rumors “that after multiple tellings had ossified into what became accepted as fact.”


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