Fifth Officer Charged in Danziger Bridge Case
WASHINGTON – Ignatius Hills, a former officer with the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), has been charged in connection with the federal investigation of a police-involved shooting on the Danziger Bridge in the days after Hurricane Katrina, the Justice Department announced today. The bill of information against Hills charges him with conspiracy to obstruct justice and misprision of a felony.
The incident on the Danziger Bridge, which occurred on Sept. 4, 2005, involved one shooting on the east side of the bridge that resulted in the death of one civilian and the wounding of four others, and a second shooting on the west side of the bridge that resulted in the death of Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old man with severe mental disabilities. Ronald Madison’s brother, Lance, was arrested on eight counts of attempting to kill police officers, but he was later released without indictment. The police maintained that they fired at the civilians in self-defense after the civilians fired at police. However, in recent months, four former and current NOPD officers have pleaded guilty to federal charges related to a cover up of the shooting incident.
The bill of information filed today alleged that Hills conspired with other police officers to provide false and misleading statements about the shooting. Specifically, the bill of information accuses Hills of writing a "gist," a charging document for NOPD, justifying the arrest of Lance Madison on eight counts of attempted murder of police officers, even though Hills had no first-hand knowledge of any wrongdoing by Madison, and even though he believed that Madison was being framed. The document also charges Hills with providing false statements about the shooting during an audio-taped NOPD interview and in a state grand jury. The bill of information also alleges that Hills knew that fellow police officers had knowingly obstructed justice by falsifying reports, and that he failed to report that crime to federal authorities.
The two-count bill of information is an accusation only. All defendants are innocent until proven guilty.
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 of the Eastern District of Louisiana.