WASHINGTON – David Ryder, a convicted felon who was dressed as a police officer on the day of a police-involved shooting on Sept. 4, 2005, in New Orleans, pleaded guilty today in federal court to lying to a federal agent and to illegally possessing a firearm.
Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and David Welker, the Special Agent in Charge of the New Orleans Field Office of the FBI, announced the guilty plea in connection with the federal probe into a police-involved shooting on the Danziger Bridge in the days after Hurricane Katrina that left two civilians dead and four others severely wounded.
Ryder admitted in court today that he lied to an FBI agent when he provided a statement about events he had witnessed leading up to the deadly shooting on the bridge. Ryder also admitted that at the time of the shooting, he was carrying a gun, even though he was legally prohibited from doing so because he was a convicted felon.
According to his statement in court today, Ryder was on the I-10 high rise bridge in New Orleans on the morning of Sept. 4, 2005, when he heard what he believed to be bullets hit the underside of the high rise and saw two or more people, down below the bridge, running in the direction of the Danziger Bridge, which runs parallel to the high rise. Ryder ran down an on-ramp and through a trailer park, in search of the people who had run from under the high rise, but he never got closer than a block from the people and he never saw them with a weapon. However, during an interview with the FBI, Ryder claimed that one of the people running away from the high rise bridge had fired at him as he ran after them through trailer park. Ryder admitted today that his statement to the FBI was a lie.
Ryder also admitted today that, after the shooting incident, he returned with NOPD officers to a makeshift police station, where he falsely identified a man in handcuffs as one of the people who had shot at the I-10 bridge. Even though Ryder had never seen anyone shooting at the high rise bridge, and did not know whether the man in handcuffs was one of the people who had run from the high rise, he told an NOPD officer, "It looks like him." Ryder also admitted today that he testified falsely, under oath, to a state grand jury investigating the Danziger Bridge incident.
Ryder faces a possible maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine of $500,000.
This case, which is ongoing, is being investigated by the New Orleans Field Office of the FBI, and is being 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 Julia K. Evans for the Eastern District of Louisiana.