Citing the “grotesque” misconduct of federal prosecutors, a judge on Tuesday granted a new trial for five former New Orleans Police Departmentofficers convicted in the deadly shootings at the Danziger Bridge after Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent cover-up.
In a 129-page order that strongly criticized prosecutors in former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s office, U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt pointed to “unprecedented events and acts” that “has taken the court on a legal odyssey unlike any other.”
The order grants a new trial for former police officers Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Robert Faulcon and Anthony Villavaso as well as Arthur Kaufman, who was convicted of orchestrating the cover-up after being assigned to investigate the shooting. All were tried and convicted in 2011 for their roles. They sought a new trial last year alleging prosecutorial misconduct, citing among other examples the revelations that prosecutors in Letten’s office had authored disparaging comments on NOLA.com about defendants in several criminal cases, including the Danziger case.