Police Abuse

New Orleans Newspaper Petitions for Documents Related to Prosecutorial Misconduct in Danziger Bridge Police Shootings to be Unsealed, Cops Seeking to Get Convictions Overturned

Prosecutorial misconduct all the way down


the five

A week after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, several police officers were involved in shooting and killing two unarmed men and wounding four others at the Danziger Bridge. The cops concocted a story about an officer down to cover up their actions. Seven of them were eventually indicted on charges of murder and attempted murder but a judge threw out those indictments because prosecutors shared secret grand jury testimony with a police officer who was a witness in the case. A few days later the Bush Justice Department stepped in with charges of their own. Federal prosecutors secured civil rights convictions against five cops in 2011, and last year they received sentences ranging from six to 65 years in prison.

The five are now seeking to have their convictions overturned in favor of a new trial due to prosecutorial misconduct in the federal trial; the judge in the case ordered prosecutors investigating leaks in their office and the Department of Justice is also investigating. An assistant US attorney and an assistant to the US attorney both admitted to commenting on the case online. The Times-Picayune is petitioning the judge to unseal documents related to the investigation. The newspaper explains:

NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune's attorneys argue that the public has a right to sealed court filings and transcripts of hearings that U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt held behind closed doors. Those hearings came after the judge ordered prosecutors to investigate the source of leaked information about the probe of the shootings.

"The defendants have filed motions with the court asking that their convictions be overturned on the basis of prosecutorial misconduct," the newspaper's attorney Lori Mince said. "At some point the court is going to rule on those motions, and the public is entitled to know every piece of information the court considers in making its decision."

It's hard to tell if or how much the case was tainted by prosecutorial indiscretion if the documents aren't unsealed, though maybe someone will leak them?