WASHINGTON – Two former New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) officers were sentenced today in relation to the beating death of Raymond Robair and subsequent cover-up, the Justice Department announced today.
U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon sentenced former NOPD Officer Melvin Williams to 262 months in prison for violating the civil rights of Robair by beating him to death, and for obstructing justice in the wake of that beating. Former NOPD Officer Matthew Dean Moore, who was working as Williams’ partner on the day of the beating, was sentenced to 70 months in prison for obstructing justice and for making false statements to the FBI during a federal investigation into Robair’s death. Williams was also ordered to pay $11,576 in restitution and Moore was sentenced to three years of supervised release.
“The New Orleans Police Department has been broken for some time, and this case shows just that,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “I hope that today’s sentences bring justice for the family of Raymond Robair and the entire community.”
“Today’s prison sentences are once again powerful messages that we in the Department of Justice will never tolerate the abuse of power or victimization of our citizens by anyone in law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Lousiana Jim Letten. “All of our citizens – and especially those among us who are most vulnerable – as well as the men and women who honor the badge of law enforcement every day deserve our respect and our protection.”
“Today’s sentences reflect the voice of the citizens, the jury which convicted these officers. Their voice clearly saying abusive behavior by our police officers will not be tolerated,” said Dave Welker, Special Agent in Charge for the FBI New Orleans Field Office. “The citizens deserve better as do the men and women of the NOPD who serve with fairness and honor.”
According to evidence presented at trial and at sentencing, Williams and Moore stopped Raymond Robair on a city street on the morning of July 30, 2005. While Moore restrained Robair, Williams kicked Robair in the side and struck him repeatedly with a metal baton. Robair suffered fractured ribs and a ruptured spleen, injuries that triggered massive internal bleeding. Williams and Moore transported Robair to Charity Hospital, where they falsely advised medical personnel there that Robair was suffering from a drug overdose. Robair continued to bleed internally as the hospital staff initially treated him as an overdose patient. Robair was pronounced dead at Charity Hospital shortly after his arrival on July 30, 2005.
After Robair’s death, an NOPD report, endorsed by Williams and Moore, provided a false account of the officers’ interactions with Robair and the staff at Charity Hospital. According to the report, the officers saw an unidentified man clutch his chest and fall to the ground, so they took the man to the hospital. The report did not mention Williams’ use of force on Robair. In March 2010, Moore falsely stated to the FBI that Williams never used force on Robair.
This case was prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Forrest Christian and Trial Attorney Jared Fishman of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Jordan Ginsberg for U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.