Monday, March 01, 2010

Former Officer Pleads Guilty in Katrina Killing

A former police lieutenant pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiring to obstruct justice after federal officials say he helped cover for officers who killed two people on a bridge in the chaos following Hurricane Katrina.

Federal investigators say former lieutenant Michael Lohman knew two people shot to death as they crossed the Danziger Bridge had no weapons, but he and others filed false reports to make the shootings seem justified. Four other people were wounded.

Family members of the victims gathered at the downtown federal courthouse as Lohman arrived to enter his plea.

“We are very, very happy about the progress that the FBI and the US Justice Department have made,’’ said Dr. Romell Madison, brother of Ronald Madison, who was killed on the bridge.

“It’s a tremendous relief for us to see some sort of closure. The people of New Orleans should be relieved that there is still justice for everybody here.’’

Seven officers were charged with murder or attempted murder in the Sept. 4, 2005, shootings, just days after Katrina smashed levees and flooded 80 percent of the city.

But a state judge dismissed the charges in 2008.

Until Lohman’s plea yesterday, no one had been convicted in the deaths of Madison, 40, a mentally disabled man, and James Brissette, 19.

Four others were wounded.

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