NEW ORLEANS — The federal case against five officers in the infamous Danziger Bridge incident is now over — at least pending appeal — with the jury finding guilty verdicts in a combined count of 25 civil rights violations. Following three days of deliberations, the verdict was read on Friday afternoon, August 5, 2011, just under six years after the incident took place on September 4, 2005.
A total of 20 current or former New Orleans police officers were charged last year in a series of federal probes, most of which were in relation to actions taken in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which plunged the city of New Orleans into a state of lawlessness and desperation.
Prosecutors had contended that the officers opened fire on an unarmed family, killing 17-year-old James Brissette and wounding four others. Minutes later, one of the officers shot and killed Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old man described by Justice officials as having severe mental disabilities.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who invited the Justice Department last year to conduct a thorough review of the police department, said the verdicts "provide significant closure to a dark chapter in our city's history."