Saturday, August 06, 2011

the mysterious lack of motivation on the Katrina Bridge case

Instapundit links to this article about some police who were convicted of civil right violations for shooting some unarmed civilians on Danziger Bridge after Hurricane Katrina. Reading the article, I was starting to become more and more outraged about the officers actions, and then I started to notice something --I had no idea why the officers would open fire on a group of civilians.

The article gives no hint. In fact, it makes no effort whatsoever to give the officer's side of the story or relate any facts whatsoever that are sympathetic to the officers. It leaves you with the impression that you had six police officers standing around doing nothing. They see a family of civilians crossing a bridge and then decide, "Hey, let's shoot those guys!" So the police open fire, killing two and wounding four more.

Well, that's ridiculous. Whether the officers had a good reason or not, they had a reason. Why doesn't the reporter want to tell me the reason? I suspect another media coverup. So I did some googling and found lots more articles that also don't explain why the officers started shooting.

The Wikipedia entry didn't tell my why the officers shot either but they had a link to another article on another mysterious unmotivated post-Katrina shooting by police. Mysteriouser and mysteriouser. But then, wait: the Wikipedia article slipped up and added this damning quote by the judge: "Henry Glover was not at the strip mall to commit suicide. He was there to retrieve some baby clothing. You killed a man. Despite your tendentious arguments to the contrary, it was no mistake."

Baby clothes? Isn't that special. The looter was only looking for baby clothes. I'm sure that if he ran across a flooded jewelry store that he wouldn't have pocketed anything. He was just going to take advantage of the lawless situation surrounding the flooding to throw a rock through a window and grab some cute clothing for his baby. The fact that he was only looking for baby clothes make all the difference. This quote is damning, not for the police officer but for the judge. It demonstrates that the judge is making a political decision rather than a judicial decision.

When I added the word "looting" to the google search, I found a CNN article that mentions that the people who were shot were crossing the bridge towards a place where looting was going on and where the looters were armed. Did the police order them to go back and they refused because they figured that the police could not enforce the order due to the breakdown of civil control? Were they actually crossing the bridge in the other direction, coming from the looted area pushing shopping carts full of loot? I have no confidence at all that CNN would tell me the truth if this were the case.

Here is one article that explains that there was wide-spread looting after the flooding and that New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin had declared martial law and ordered the police to "take back the city". Apparently Nagin had no legal authority to do that, but would regular police know that? Some of the police captains are reported to have ordered officers to shoot looters. But Nagin and the police captains aren't being tried. The only people being tried here are the police officers who were in the middle of it after three days on insufficient sleep and watching looters tear the city apart, adding a human-caused disaster to the natural disaster.

Charges against these police were originally dropped by a judge for prosecutorial misconduct. I guess the judge, like me, suspected that a lot of this was political. But that's not the end of it, because, as we know from the Rodney King case, the US has an exception to the double-jeopardy rule of the constitution: when white police officers are accused of attacking black people and get off, then the feds get another crack at it. I'm only guessing that the victims were black --the news accounts carefully do not give any information about the people who were shot.

I don't really know what happened at Danziger Bridge that day. The police claim that they were being shot at, and although they planted a gun, that does not prove that they were not shot at or did not believe that they were being shot at. It's frankly a bit unbelievable that an officer would empty the clip of an AR-15 without thinking that he was being shot at. The news reports indicate that there were witnesses who said the civilians were not shooting at police, but the reports are careful to give no information about these witnesses --information such as "what were they doing there?" and "where the witnesses looting too?"

I am starting to suspect that a great injustice has been done against these police officers.


Marcel said...

There's some information here: 5 NOPD officers guilty in post-Katrina Danziger Bridge shootings, cover-up.

The officers' defense said they were answering a distress call from another cop who said people were shooting at police. Arriving at the bridge, the officers thought they were under fire.

Besides what Nagin said about taking back the city, it seems possible the police were influenced by the hysterical media reports that made it sound like the city collapsing into chaos. I gaurantee the reporters will never be called to account.

Doc Rampage said...

Both good points.

To me the most suspicious thing about all of this is that it hasn't been blown into a big deal by the media. That implies to me that if the officers really got to tell their side of the story, people might be on their side.

Foxfier said...

Main thing I heard was that the nurse who testified that one of the wounded told her that the looters who were shot had guns was ignored.