WASHINGTON – Two officers with the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) have been convicted of civil rights and obstruction of justice crimes in connection with the beating death of civilian Raymond Robair in July 2005, and a subsequent cover-up.
Officer Melvin Williams was convicted of violating Robair’s constitutional rights by beating him on July 30, 2005. Evidence at trial established that Williams approached Robair on the street in Robair’s neighborhood. Several neighbors testified that they saw Williams kick Robair in the side and beat him repeatedly with a baton. After the beating, Williams and Moore placed Robair, who was unconscious, into their police car and drove him to Charity Hospital, where, according to witnesses at trial, they falsely informed the hospital staff that they had found Robair under a bridge in this condition, and that all they knew was that Robair was a drug user. Based upon that information, the hospital treated Robair for a drug overdose rather than for blunt force trauma. Robair, who suffered fractured ribs and a ruptured spleen as a result of the beating, was pronounced dead within a few hours.
Williams was also convicted, along with Officer Matthew Dean Moore, of obstructing justice by writing and submitting a false and inaccurate incident report regarding their interactions with Robair. Moore was also convicted of one additional felony count for making false statements regarding the incident to FBI agents in March 2010.
“Every community relies upon their police officers to protect and serve, but these officers abused their power, violating the law and the public trust,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “I am hopeful that today’s verdict brings a measure of justice to the victim’s family and the entire community.”
“As we recognize Victims’ Rights this week, today’s verdict is evidence that we, and our partners in the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and FBI, are absolutely committed to bring those who have violated the sacred rights of our citizens to justice, in the hope that our pursuit will give the people of New Orleans confidence in the protection of honest and professional law enforcement,” said Jim Letten, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Williams faces a possible maximum sentence of life in prison. Moore faces a possible maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.
This case was investigated by the New Orleans Field Office of the FBI, and was prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Forrest Christian and Trial Attorney Jared Fishman of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordan Ginsberg of the Eastern District of Louisiana.