NEW ORLEANS - David Marion Ryder, a civilian who provided false information about the police-involved shooting on the Danziger Bridge in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, was sentenced today to eight months in prison, the Justice Department announced. Ryder was also sentenced to eight months of home detention following his prison sentence. Ryder, of Opelousas, La., pleaded guilty on April 28, 2010 to illegally possessing a firearm, and for lying to the FBI during the federal investigation of the shooting, which left two civilians dead and four seriously wounded.
“The defendant lied to federal investigators about a horrendous incident that occurred during a devastating time for New Orleans,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The department successfully uncovered the events from that day, and will continue to work with the people of New Orleans in restoring their trust in the police department.”
Ryder was armed and dressed as a law enforcement officer on Sept. 4, 2005, the day of the Danziger Bridge shooting. As a convicted felon, Ryder was prohibited from carrying a firearm. Immediately after the shooting, Ryder lied to New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) investigators, falsely claiming that he had seen a civilian, Lance Madison, firing a weapon at police officers. In fact, Ryder later admitted during his guilty plea in federal court that he had not seen anybody fire at police officers. Madison, whose brother Ronald was one of the two civilians killed during the shooting on the bridge, was arrested on Sept. 4, 2005, in part based on Ryder’s false statement. Madison was eventually released from custody, and a state grand jury later declined to bring charges against him.
During a federal investigation that culminated in the conviction of 10 NOPD officers involved in the shooting and a cover-up that followed, Ryder lied to FBI agents about what he had seen on the bridge. Ryder admitted during his plea hearing that he lied to the FBI when he initially claimed that a civilian running toward the Danziger Bridge had shot at him on Sept. 4, 2005.
During the federal investigation of the Danziger Bridge shooting, five NOPD officers pleaded guilty, admitting their roles in the cover-up and agreeing to cooperate with the prosecution. Five additional officers – Sergeant Kenneth Bowen, Sergeant Robert Gisevius, Sergeant Arthur “Archie” Kaufman, Officer Robert Faulcon and Officer Anthony Villavaso – were convicted at trial on Aug. 5, 2011. Bowen, Gisevius, Faulcon and Villavaso were convicted of civil rights and firearm offenses for unjustifiably shooting the six civilians on the bridge, and all five defendants were convicted of obstructing justice in the wake of the shooting.
The five officers convicted at trial will be sentenced in December. A sixth officer, former Sergeant Gerard Dugue, is scheduled to stand trial in January 2012.
This case was prosecuted by Deputy Chief Bobbi Bernstein and Trial Attorney Cindy Chung of the Civil Rights Division, along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Ted Carter of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.