New Orleans Police Officer Charged in Danziger Bridge Case
WASHINGTON – A two-count bill of information filed today in federal court charges New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) Officer Michael Hunter with misprision of a felony (for concealing a known felony) and with conspiring with fellow NOPD officers to obstruct justice by covering up a police-involved shooting in the days after Hurricane Katrina, announced Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, Jim Letten, U. S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana and David Welker, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI New Orleans Field Office.
The Sept. 4, 2005, shooting on the Danziger Bridge left two civilians dead and four others seriously injured. According to the bill of information, the incident involved at least six other NOPD officers whom Hunter, 33, of Slidell, La., drove to the Danziger Bridge in a Budget rental truck. On the east side of the bridge, the officers encountered six civilians (five members of the B Family, and J. B., a friend of the B Family), who were walking across the bridge to get food and supplies from a supermarket.
Officers fired at the group of civilians, killing J. B. and seriously wounding four members of the B Family. Hunter and other officers then traveled to the west side of the bridge, where they encountered Lance and Ronald Madison, who were crossing the bridge on their way to the dentistry office of one of their other brothers. On the west side of the bridge, an officer shot and killed Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old man who had a severe disability.
The two-count bill of information charges Hunter with violating the federal conspiracy statute by agreeing with other officers to provide false and misleading information about the Sept. 4, 2005, shootings on the Danziger Bridge and with covering up other information in order to ensure that the shootings would appear to be legally justified. Hunter also was charged with misprision of a felony. The defendant faces a possible maximum sentence of eight 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. No further details or information will be made available at this time.