WASHINGTON – A former New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) officer was sentenced today to serve five years in prison for his role in covering up a police-involved shooting that occurred on the Danziger Bridge in the days after Hurricane Katrina.
Robert Barrios was one of several officers who rode in a large Budget rental truck to the Danziger Bridge on Sept. 4, 2005, where officers engaged in a shooting incident that left two civilians dead and four others seriously injured.
In April 2010, Barrios admitted that he agreed with other officers to obstruct justice during the investigations that followed the shooting. Barrios also admitted that, prior to giving a formal, audio-taped statement to NOPD investigators, he and other officers participated in a meeting with two sergeants assigned to investigate the shooting, during which the officers were instructed to get their stories straight before giving their formal statements. Barrios further admitted that he lied, in a formal NOPD statement, in order to help cover for his fellow officers, and that the purpose of the conspiracy he joined was to provide false and misleading information in order to ensure that the shootings on the bridge would appear to be legally justified and that the involved officers would therefore be shielded from liability.
Barrios is the fifth cooperating police officer to be sentenced in this case. Former Lieutenant Michael Lohman, former Detective Jeffrey Lehrmann, and former Officers Michael Hunter and Ignatius Hills are all serving federal prison sentences. The five officers who were convicted at trial – Sergeants Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, and Arthur “Archie” Kaufman; Officer Anthony Villavaso; and former Officer Robert Faulcon – are scheduled to be sentenced by U. S. District Court Judge Kurt Engelhardt on Feb. 14, 2012.
This case was investigated by the New Orleans Field Office of the FBI, and was prosecuted by Deputy Chief Bobbi Bernstein and Trial Attorney Forrest Christian of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Ted Carter for the Eastern District of Louisiana.