Hurricane Katrina – the aftermath
Weblog for Day 9: Sunday, September 4, 2005

Eastern New Orleans shootout

New Orleans Police officers sent up a cheer Sunday with a report that their colleagues had engaged in a shootout with an armed group on Danziger Bridge in eastern New Orleans, with none of the cops hit and five of the suspected marauders wounded. No word was available on the condition of the wounded.

Lawsuits dispute fatal shooting
Posted by Gwen Filosa September 14, 2006

The bridge, on Chef Menteur Highway, spans the Industrial Canal and connects Gentilly to eastern New Orleans. As floodwaters rose after Katrina, masses of stranded residents stood or walked along the highway in search of food, water and help. But on the morning of Sept. 4, 2005, it became the site of a shooting in which heavily armed police responded to what they said were reports of shots being fired at fellow officers.

The lawsuits dispute that account, asserting instead that the people on the bridge were the victims of an unwarranted attack by police. Surviving shooting victim Lance Madison has confirmed accounts of gunfire near the bridge before police fired on him but he said the people on the bridge, not the police, were the targets.

Believing they were under attack by criminals, the victims, all unarmed, said they tried to run away, according to the lawsuits.

But before they could flee, a squad of heavily armed men in dark clothing arrived, jumped out of a rental truck and let loose a flurry of bullets at the small crowd on the bridge, in an account similar to that offered by police.

The men in the rental truck turned out to be New Orleans police officers — none clearly identified with badges or uniforms — who later said they believed cop killers were prowling the bridge.


Believing two of their own had been cut down by gunmen under the Danziger Bridge, a group of officers commandeered a Budget Rent-a-Truck and raced to the scene.

“A gunfight ensued,” Sgt. Arthur Kaufman testified at a preliminary hearing in the case against Madison, held Sept. 28 at a state prison in St. Gabriel. “The officers identified themselves. They were fired upon by four of the seven subjects. Handguns were used by the subjects. Five people were shot at the foot of the Danziger Bridge, four critically wounded, one killed. One perpetrator killed.”

The seven police officers who responded to the call at the bridge were Sgts. Robert Gisevius and Kenneth Bowen; and officers Robert Barrios, Robert Faulcon, Ignatius Hills, Michael Hunter and Anthony Villavaso.

An eighth man who was already on the scene, David Ryder, 42, claimed he was a St. Landry Parish sheriff’s deputy. But Ryder has a criminal record that includes a conviction for false imprisonment, arrests for battery on a police officer and possession of cocaine, according to court documents from Nacogdoches County, Texas.

Ryder is listed as a victim of the Danziger Bridge incident in police reports dated Sept. 4, 2005, along with each of the seven NOPD officers who took the call.

7 NO cops indicted in killings on bridge

NOPD’s bridge probe full of blanks
Posted by Laura Maggi May 18, 2007 1:09PM

An internal probe of the Danziger Bridge incident, in which seven police officers fired on civilians, killing two, in post-Katrina chaos, relied almost solely on accounts by the officers themselves, with scant backing from physical evidence or statements from bystanders.

Attorneys for the officers have cited the 53-page investigative report, a copy of which was obtained by The Times-Picayune, in arguing that they are innocent, but the officers were indicted on charges of murder and attempted murder by a state grand jury hearing evidence presented by District Attorney Eddie Jordan.

Though police Superintendent Warren Riley had vowed that the probe would be “thorough,” a close examination of the document reveals profound failings, according to an outside law enforcement expert and attorneys for the people shot by police. The officers, who say they fired back only after meeting a barrage of unprovoked gunfire, produced only one handgun from the scene, which the report does not directly connect to anyone suspected of shooting at police.

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

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