Cops ask judge to toss bridge New Orleans shooting case
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AP) -- Two New Orleans police officers charged in a deadly shooting in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath say the district attorney reneged on a deal granting them partial immunity in exchange for their testimony before a grand jury.
Attorneys for both asked a judge on Wednesday to throw out the murder and attempted murder charges against their clients.
A grand jury last week indicted the two officers and five others in the September 4, 2005, shootings on the Danziger Bridge that killed two men and wounded four other people.
Officer Ignatius Hills and Sgt. Kenneth Bowen were assured their grand jury testimony about the shooting wouldn't be used against them, their attorneys maintain in court papers. District Attorney Eddie Jordan reneged on the deal, they argue.
"Officer Hills submits that this flagrant, direct and improper use of his immunized testimony requires this court to quash the indictment against him and order him released," attorney Bruce Whittaker wrote in court papers. Hills is charged with attempted second-degree murder.
Bowen initially invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when he appeared before the grand jury in October, attorney Frank DeSalvo said in his motion. Jordan's office later sought a court order compelling Bowen to testify in exchange for partial immunity, he said.
"The state cannot meet its heavy burden of proving that all of the evidence it proposes to use was derived from legitimate, independent sources separate and apart from Bowen's grand jury testimony," DeSalvo wrote.
Bowen was indicted on a first-degree murder charge after testifying before the grand jury for about five hours.
Officer Mike Hunter Jr. is the only other indicted officer who testified before the grand jury. His attorney, Townsend Myers, was out of town Wednesday and hadn't filed a similar motion.
Dalton Savwoir, a spokesman for Jordan, declined to comment on the motions except to say, "It's normally the job of the defense attorneys to keep a case from going to court."
Bowen, Sgt. Robert Gisevius Jr., officer Anthony Villavaso II and former officer Robert Faulcon Jr., are charged with first-degree murder. Hunter and Officer Robert Barrios are charged with attempted first-degree murder.
The officers were to be arraigned Friday.
Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old mentally retarded man, and James Brissette, 19, were shot and killed by police on the bridge.
Police say the officers were responding to a report of other officers being attacked when they came under fire. Police also claim Madison was reaching for a gun.
Madison's brother, Lance, denies he or his brother was armed. He said they were running from a group of teens who had opened fire on the bridge when seven men jumped out of a rental truck and also shot at them without warning.
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