WASHINGTON - Former New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) Officer Ignatius Hills was sentenced today by U. S. District Court Judge Martin L.C. Feldman to 78 months in prison. Hills pleaded guilty in federal court on June 4, 2010, to misprision of a felony and to conspiring with fellow officers to obstruct justice by covering up the police shooting that occurred on the Danziger Bridge on Sept. 4, 2005, immediately following Hurricane Katrina.
Hills had previously testified for the United States as a witness in the trial which resulted in convictions of the five NOPD Danziger defendants on civil rights homicide and obstruction-related charges.
On Sept. 4, 2005, just four days after Hurricane Katrina, Hills was one of several officers present during two shooting incidents which left two people dead and four others seriously injured.
In both the factual basis supporting his guilty plea and his testimony at trial, Hills admitted that he signed a sworn statement justifying the arrest of Lance Madison with no first-hand information about any wrongdoing by Madison. Hills also admitted that he conspired with other officers and supervisors to give false statements about the shooting during the investigation of this incident, and he provided false statements to NOPD investigators and to the state grand jury who initially investigated the matter. He additionally admitted and testified that he knew that his fellow officers had knowingly falsified reports and given false statements, in violation of federal law, and failed to report those crimes.
In a separate related matter, U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Vance denied a motion by the government to reduce the eight-year sentence for former NOPD Officer Michael Hunter, who also pleaded guilty and cooperated with the government in the Danziger Bridge case.
The 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 Theodore Carter for the Eastern District of Louisiana.