More than a decade after six unarmed civilians were shot by police while trying to cross New Orleans’ Danziger Bridge in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, five former officers pleaded guilty in connection with the deadly shooting, NOLA.com reports.
In 2011, the officers were convicted of more serious crimes, but a new trial was ordered after a federal judge determined prosecutors had engaged in “grotesque” ethical misconduct. On Wednesday, all five officers pleaded guilty over the 2005 shooting and subsequent coverup in exchange for reduced sentences ranging from three to 12 years. From CNN:
On Sunday, September 4, 2005, initial police accounts said officers responded to reports of gunshots on the bridge and that a running gunbattle ensued with six suspects. Two people, a disabled man and teenager, were killed and four were seriously wounded in what officers involved claimed was self-defense.
A witness, however, told CNN in 2006 that police lined up “like at a firing range” and fatally shot an unarmed man in the back as he fled from them. Others on the bridge said police ambushed them. In all, two people were killed and four wounded.
“While an imperfect resolution, today’s proceeding ensures that these defendants are held accountable for their criminal actions,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite in a statement. “Those of us who continue to serve as prosecutors must embrace the lessons learned from this Danziger case.”
Despite the lighter sentences, at least one surviving family member found a degree of closure.