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New Orleans officers sentenced for shooting unarmed civilians, cover-up

April 4, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Five former New Orleans police officers were sentenced Wednesday for participating in and/or covering up a civilian shooting incident that took place in 2005. The officers were convicted by a federal jury in 2011 of civil rights violations and covering up the shootings.

Police fired on at least seven unarmed civilians on the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Six were struck: Two died and four were severely injured.

Prosecutors allege that on Sept. 4, 2005, a rental truck full of police officers drove to the Danziger Bridge. Officers exited and began firing at the civilians. One officer fired an AK-47. Another used a shotgun, and a third used an M-4 assault rifle. The officers then conspired to justify the shootings by planting a gun, fabricating witnesses and falsifying reports.

A 40-year-old mentally challenged man received a shotgun blast in the back. One officer was convicted of stomping the man as he died, but the judge dismissed that conviction citing lack of evidence.

A New Orleans couple, their daughter and their nephew were injured. A 17-year-old family friend was killed, in addition to the 40-year-old. One woman had her right arm shot off. Her husband survived being shot in the leg and the back of the head. Their daughter was shot in both legs and the stomach. Their nephew was shot in the face, neck, both arms, the hand and the stomach.

The 17-year-old was shot in the back, leg, both arms and back of the head. He died on the bridge. A 14-year-old was also fired on. He ran away from the shooting and was not injured.

Robert Faulcon Jr., 48, was sentenced to 65 years in prison. Faulcon fired the shot that killed the 40-year-old mentally challenged man.

Former Sgt. Kenneth Bowen, 38, was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Bowen sat in the passenger seat of the rental truck, and jumped out of the truck and sprayed an AK-47 at civilians.

Former Sgt. Robert Gisevius Jr., 39, was sentenced to 40 years in prison. He fired an M-4 assault rifle. He was also convicted for orchestrating the cover-up of the shooting.

Anthony Villavaso II, 35, was sentenced to 38 years in prison. He fired an AK-47 at unarmed civilians on the bridge.

Former Sgt. Arthur Kaufman, 55, was convicted on 10 counts related to the cover-up of the shootings. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

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