Shots on the Bridge: Police Violence and Cover-up in the Wake of Katrina

By Ronnie Greene

Named one of many best books of 2015 via NewsOne Now, and named the best books of August 2015 through Apple

Winner of the 2015 Investigative newshounds and Editors e-book Award

A harrowing tale of blue on black violence, of black lives that doubtless didn't matter.

On September four, 2005, six days after storm Katrina’s landfall in New Orleans, teams of individuals intersected at the Danziger Bridge, a low-rising expanse over the economic Canal. One used to be the police who had stayed in the back of as Katrina roared close to, desirous to retain keep an eye on as their urban spun into chaos. the opposite used to be the citizens pressured to stick at the back of with them throughout the typhoon and, on that fateful Sunday, trying to find the fundamentals of survival: nutrition, medication, safety. They collided that morning in a frenzy of gunfire.

When the taking pictures stopped, a steady forty-year-old guy with the brain of a kid lay slumped at the flooring, seven bullet wounds in his again, his white blouse grew to become pink. A seventeen-year-old used to be riddled with gunfire from his heel to his head. A mother’s arm was once blown off; her daughter’s abdominal gouged through a bullet. Her husband’s head used to be pierced by way of shrapnel. Her nephew used to be shot within the neck, jaw, abdominal, and hand.  Like all of the different sufferers, he was once black—and unarmed.

Before the blood had dried at the pavement, the shooters, each one a member of the recent Orleans Police division, and their supervisors hatched a cover-up. They planted a gun, invented witnesses, and charged in their sufferers with tried homicide. on the NOPD, they have been hailed as heroes.

Shots at the Bridge
explores essentially the most dramatic circumstances of police violence noticeable in our state within the final decade—the bloodbath of blameless humans, conducted by means of participants of the NOPD, within the brutal, disorderly days following storm Katrina. It finds the phobia that gripped the police of a urban slid into anarchy, the conditions that drove determined survivors to the bridge, and the horror that erupted whilst the police opened hearth. It rigorously reveals  the cover-up that just about buried the reality.  And ultimately, it strains the felony maze that, a decade later, leaves the sufferers and their family nonetheless trying to find justice.

This is the tale of the way the folks intended to guard and serve voters can do violence, conceal their tracks, and paintings the criminal procedure because the country awaits justice.

From the Hardcover edition.

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AS FAY AND FISHER labored to transparent Lance’s identify in legal court docket, a moment felony entrance was once brewing in civil court docket. backstage, the Madison kinfolk, the Bartholomew relations, Jose Holmes, and Sherrel Johnson labored to problem the police-created notion, laying the foundation for a sequence of court cases opposed to the town, Mayor Ray Nagin, Superintendent Edwin Compass, different best NOPD brass, and the law enforcement officials who unleashed their guns. those court cases, which have been starting to be filed round the twelve months anniversary of Katrina, have been the 1st public sign that the police tale will possibly not be true.

Romell Madison stepped into the intense August day and was once immediately surrounded via pals and supporters stretching their hands to take him in. Sherrel Johnson wiped her tears with a white handkerchief as Jim Letten, the neighborhood US legal professional, spoke concerning the verdict simply rendered. Supporters placed their arms on her again, a literal help beam, as officers held a press convention to debate the ancient verdict simply introduced. The Bartholomews had “laid their hearts open” in the course of their testimony at the stand.

As a substitute, so one can hide up his personal wrongdoing and that of his fellow officials, he made a wakeful determination to take part in order to body Lance on fake fees. ” yet now, she stated, the Madison relatives was once grateful Hills got here ahead and helped puncture the police code of silence. “We really think that the voice of a unmarried person telling the reality can have made a distinction. ” It wouldn’t have introduced Ronald again, “but it could possibly have avoided my brother Lance from being thrown in prison,” she stated.

And so I regarded away they usually shot me two times within the stomach,” Holmes acknowledged later. His inspiration: “Man, they truly wish me lifeless. I paced my respiring simply because I knew—I concept if I panicked relatively undesirable that i might die. So I had sufficient brain to speed my respiring. ” Blood gushing over his physique, he lay at the flooring, “wondering if i'd continue to exist. you recognize, praying to God that he could get me via this. ” Bowen’s AK-47, borrowed from Hunter within the truck with an entire journal of thirty bullets, used to be now empty.

Interviews with Madison’s protection staff helped describe how the family members driven the DA to discover the reality, and this part benefited from stories within the Times-Picayune and linked Press describing a few of the reactions in New Orleans to this crucial criminal flip. in the course of my examine, I accumulated info describing the police reaction to the costs, together with messages written on sign 26, a web message board “by and for the NOPD. ” I reviewed dispatches written by way of Mike Glasser, the president of the Police organization of latest Orleans, together with one despatched December 30, 2006, urging police supporters to rally round the troops as they confronted their reserving at the fees days after New 12 months 2007.

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