The five officers found guilty in the post-Katrina Danzinger Bridge killings of two innocent, unarmed civilians—teenager James Brissette and Ronald Madison, a mentally-challenged man—will enter plea deals for reduced sentences.
Four of the officers face prison terms of 7 to 12 years, while one faces three, nothing compared to the anywhere from 38 to 65 years these men were sentenced to after their August 2011 convictions. Counting time served, four of these felons could be free in as little as two years; and another officer will walk free today for his role in the cover up. We say this is hardly enough for their callous and heinous evils.
Some might suggest the plea deal means this dreadful incident is finally behind us and that our city can avoid another trial that cast an awful shadow on New Orleans. We say it only rips off the bandage of justice exposing the festering wound to new hurt.
Yes, we are completely disappointed in the U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite’s decision to accept plea bargains in this case, especially considering that it was wrongdoing in Louisiana’s Eastern District U.S. Attorney Office under Jim Letten that led to the verdicts against Kenneth Bowen, Robert Faulcon Jr, Robert Gisevius, Anthony Villavaso and Arthur Kaufman being overturned in 2013 in the first place. In other words, since it was the U.S. Attorney’s Office that messed up in the first place, it ought to be bending over backwards to make this thing right. And FYI, low-end plea deals do not make this right—not this.
If there was a time for vehement and aggressive prosecution, this was it. We would have taken it better of the U.S. Attorney’s Office had fought and lost at trial.
Meanwhile, we wonder if they’ll be getting an award for this too, like the one they got for prosecuting Ray Nagin. Yes, we wonder where’s that vim and vigor prosecutors exhibited in the case against former mayor Ray Nagin who was taken down for petty bribes as opposed to the deprivation of civil rights and the taking of life, which is what these five former officers are guilty of. How could they have settled for such low sentences in this case? And why is that the online commenting scandal that exposed the wrongdoings of former top federal prosecutors Jann Mann and Sal Perricone along with the obliviousness and complacency (at best) or the complicity (at worst) of their boss former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten seems to have dramatically impacted this case while Ray Nagin—who was also the victim of Mann and Perricone’s judicial misconduct—serves 10 years for trips and gifts with no consideration for how their acts impacted his case.
Meanwhile, Kenneth Bowen, Robert Faulcon Jr, Robert Gisevius, Anthony Villavaso and Arthur Kaufman will get what amounts to slaps on the wrist for the most grievous of wrongdoings—the wanton taking of human lives despite the fact that they swore to protect and serve the people of this city.
Not justice at all.