Saturday, December 03, 2011

Former New Orleans cop sentenced to five years for Katrina shootings cover-up

A FORMER New Orleans police officer was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday local time (today) for his role in covering up the shootings of unarmed civilians in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Robert Barrios had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice over the September 4, 2005 shootings in which two people died and four others were injured, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

Fellow former officers Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Robert Faulcon and Anthony Villavaso were each found guilty earlier this year on counts of violating the civil rights of those killed and injured in the shootings and of participating in a cover-up of the incident, though a federal jury found that none of their actions rose to the level of murder.

Sergeant Arthur Kaufman was also found guilty of involvement in the cover-up. Those five officers are scheduled to be sentenced in district court on February 14, AFP reported.

The shootings, one of the darkest stories to emerge from the chaotic days following Hurricane Katrina, took place on the east side of the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans.

Bowen, Gisevius, Faulcon and Villavaso reportedly fired indiscriminately on the civilians after responding to reports of looting and reports that someone had been firing at police.

Before sentencing Thursday, Barrios, 30, said, "I hope the families find it in their heart to forgive the role I played in this."

US District Judge Eldon Fallon told him that police officers were both given great responsibilities and significant respect. "We expect [police] to live up to that responsibility. When they lie to us, it creates a problem not only to the people you lied to and hurt but all of us."

Original report here

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