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Justice for Katrina Shooting Victims

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt sentenced five men involved in the post-Katrina shootings on the Danziger bridge to years of prison time. The case gained media attention after the police killed 17-year-old James Brissette and 40-year-old, mentally ill Ronald Madison and injured four others on Sept. 4, 2005—then tried to cover it up with a planted gun, fabricated witnesses, and falsified reports. Angered by the mandatory minimum sentencing law that he was bound to, Engelhardt gave former officer Robert Faulcon 65 years for killing Madison, Sgts. Kenneth Bowen and Robert Gisevius 40 years, former officer Anthony Villavoso 38 years, and Sgt. Arthur Kaufman six years on federal firearms charges.

Pushed by the Justice Department as a way to clean up the corrupt New Orleans Police Department, Engelhardt criticized prosecutors for taking plea bargains for five other officer clients, reducing their sentences to a few years. According to the New Orleans Times Picayune, he called it "a sad day for New Orleans" and referred to Villavoso’s partner who only received five years as the "biggest winner in the plea-bargain sweepstakes." The convicted officers are scheduled to appeal soon.

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