09/29/2005

NO police launch investigation into reports some officers looted

By JULIA SILVERMAN
Associated Press Writer

NEW ORLEANS- The police department has launched an investigation into whether officers participated in the giant looting spree that overtook the city after Hurricane Katrina, a spokesman said Thursday.

News reports in the aftermath of the storm put officers at the scene of some of the heaviest looting, the Wal-Mart in the Lower Garden District. Some witnesses _ including a Times Picayune reporter _ said police were taking items from shelves.

"Out of 1,750 officers, we're looking into the possibility that maybe 12 officers were involved in misconduct," police spokesman Marlon Defillo said.

He rejected the use of the term "looting," but said authorities were investigating "the possibility of appropriation of non-essential items during the height of Katrina, from businesses."

Earlier this week, the city's police superintendent, Eddie Compass, resigned, as the looting reports gained currency, along with intense questioning of earlier police claims of widespread violence after the storm.

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