Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Echoes from Katrina's Aftermath Still Reverberating

[Trigger warning for violence.]

Former New Orleans police detective Jeffrey Lehrmann testified this week "that he participated in a plot to fabricate witnesses, falsify reports and plant a gun to make it seem police were justified in shooting unarmed residents on a New Orleans bridge after Hurricane Katrina."
Jeffrey Lehrmann, a government witness in the federal trial of five current or former officers, said he saw Sgt. Arthur "Archie" Kaufman retrieve a gun from his home several weeks after the deadly shootings on the Danziger Bridge. Kaufman later turned the gun in as evidence, claiming he found it under the bridge a day after the 2005 shootings that left two people dead and four others wounded.

Lehrmann said Kaufman instructed him to fill out paperwork that claimed the gun belonged to Lance Madison, whose mentally disabled brother, Ronald, was shot and killed on the bridge. Lance Madison was arrested on attempted murder charges and held for more than three weeks before a judge freed him.

Lehrmann said Kaufman, his supervisor, had grown concerned because the judge who freed Madison didn't believe Kaufman's testimony at the hearing.

"Therefore, we needed a gun," Lehrmann said.
After Madison had been shot by another officer, Lehrmann handcuffed him, only to be told later that Madison had died.
Lehrmann said the officers immediately afterward started to "get their stories straight."

"We had a lot of problems because it was a bad shoot," he said.

"What was the goal of the cover-up?" prosecutor Cindy Chung asked.

"Protect the officers from legal ramifications," he said.
This is, of course, not a surprise. It has been known for some time that, in the aftermath of Katrina, gun-owners were forced—at gunpointto hand over their guns, even in areas unaffected by the hurricane, as part of the martial law that was quietly instituted, including giving police orders to shoot looters.

Still, I don't even know what to say, other than I'm glad this information is finally coming to light at long last. I fervently hope that justice will be done, and fear that it won't be.

[H/T to Spudsy. Related Reading: