15 Jul 2010

New Orleans police charged over post-Katrina shootings

9:13 pm on 15 July 2010

Six New Orleans police officers have been charged in connection with the shooting of unarmed civilians on a bridge in the days after Hurricane Katrina.

Two people died and four were wounded in the 2005 shootings.

Prosecutors say the four policemen had been responding to a call that another officer had come under fire in the Danziger Bridge area of New Orleans, the BBC reports.

Police officers Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Robert Faulcon and Anthony Villavaso are accused of shooting at an unarmed group walking on the bridge, killing a 17-year-old boy and wounding four other people.

Minutes later on the west side of the bridge, officers allegedly shot at two middle-aged brothers, one of whom later died.

US Attorney-General Eric Holder says the indictments represent an important step forward in administering justice, healing community wounds and restoring public trust in the New Orleans police department.

The incident came in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as the authorities vowed to restore security in the city.