Six days after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans police officers responded to a report of alleged gunfire at Danziger Bridge. Sgt. Kenneth Bowen, Sgt. Robert Gisevius, Officer Anthony Villavaso, Officer Robert Faulcon, and others, arrived at the scene in a Budget rental truck. They opened fire upon an unarmed family who hid behind cement. A friend of the family, 17-year-old James Brissette, was killed and four others in the vicinity were wounded. Ronald and Lance Madison fled the scene in their vehicle, but were pursued by Faulcon and Gisevius down the bridge. Fauclon fired into the back of the Madison’s vehicle with a shotgun, hitting Ronald, who would later die of his injuries. When the smoke settled, no weapons were recovered and both police and witnesses stated the victims were unarmed.
The police claimed they were fired upon by civilians when they arrived at the scene, prompting them to use deadly force. Homicide detective Arthur Kaufman was made lead investigator of the case, but would find himself guilty of conspiring with the defendants to conceal evidence to make the shootings appear justified. This included fabricating official reports during the investigation. Lt. Michael Lohman was implicated as well.
On August 5, 2011, a federal jury in New Orleans convicted the officers involved on a myriad of charges, including first-degree murder. But, the convictions were vacated two years later due to prosecutorial misconduct. A new trial was ordered.
The Danziger Bridge Killings
(James Brissette, Ronald Madison, and 4 others wounded)
New Orleans, Louisiana
September 2 – 4, 2005