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New Orleans police support 7 officers charged in bridge shooting

Associated Press Writer

Police officers and fellow supporters applaud as seven New Orleans police officers turn themselves in at the city jail in New Orleans Tuesday. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
NEW ORLEANS -- Police officers gathered outside a jail Tuesday morning to support seven fellow officers due to surrender in connection with a deadly bridge shooting during the chaos following Hurricane Katrina.

The seven policemen were indicted Thursday on murder or attempted murder charges. Two men died and four people were wounded in the gunfire Sept. 4, 2005, on the Danziger Bridge.

Attorneys for two of the indicted men said all seven would report to jail as a group Tuesday to face charges.

The officers showing support outside the jail said any comment would have to come from a union representative, who had not yet arrived. An SUV drove past with "Support the Innocent 7 NOPD" and "Justice, not political gain" written on its windows.

Darren Hills, whose brother Ignatius Hills was indicted on one count of attempted second-degree murder, said the family would post bail for him as soon as possible.

"It took everybody by surprise. Totally blindsided by the decision," Darren Hills said of the charges.

Robert Faulcon, Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius and Anthony Villavaso are charged with first-degree murder. Robert Barrios and Mike Hunter are charged with attempted first-degree murder. Faulcon resigned after the shootings; the others have been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the case.

An arraignment was scheduled for Wednesday, and the judge has said there would be no bail for the four accused of first-degree murder.

A first-degree murder conviction carries a possible death sentence. A spokesman for District Attorney Eddie Jordan said Monday that prosecutors haven't decided yet whether to seek the death penalty in the case.

Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old mentally retarded man, and James Brissette, 19, were killed on the bridge. The coroner said Madison was shot seven times, with five wounds in the back.

The facts of what exactly happened on the bridge that day remain murky.

Police say that the officers were responding to a report of other officers down, and that they thought Madison was reaching for a gun.

Madison's brother, Lance Madison, was also on the bridge and denies that either he or his brother was armed. He said they were running from a group of teens who had shot at them when seven men jumped out of a rental truck and fired at them without warning.

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