Grand jury to investigate police actions in Katrina's aftermath



Associated Press Writer

NEW ORLEANS - A state grand jury will investigate several controversies involving police in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, including New Orleans police taking cars from a Cadillac dealership and the shooting deaths of two men suspected of firing on contractors.

The grand jury will be the first impaneled here since Hurricane Katrina hit Aug. 29. District Attorney Eddie Jordan, whose offices were flooded in the storm, announced the investigations Wednesday from his temporary headquarters in a former nightclub.

More than 200 vehicles _ including 88 new Cadillacs and Chevrolets _ were taken from a dealership amid the chaos after the hurricane hit. New Orleans police have acknowledged that some of the cars were taken by officers to replace flooded police cars.

In October, two civilians were arrested in the case and on Friday a federal grand jury indicted a former officer who is charged with stealing a pickup truck from the dealership.

The police shooting case has been surrounded by confusion. On Sept. 4, police said five people were shot to death after opening fire on a group of contractors on a bridge in eastern New Orleans. But the number was later revised down to two and questions have been raised about whether those killed were involved in any wrongdoing.

The grand jury also will look at evidence in a case involving a police chief and police officer from the small south Louisiana town of Mermentau accused of looting after Katrina. And it will examine allegations of possible malfeasance involving an official with the Port of New Orleans' Harbor Police.

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