By: Kristen Swiger
Family members of victims silently cried as Judge Englehardt read the verdict outloud to a full courtroom. It took four days for the jury to find all five defendants guilty on 23 out of 25 counts, with the two exceptions being premeditated murder charges.
Crucial evidence against the officers included bullet shell casings that were traced back to guns, taped conversations, and even a video that captured what happened on the Danziger Bridge just daya after Katrina.
Both sides fought a difficult battle, but legal analyst Chick Foret says the defense just came up with too many excuses.
“Certainly the defense tried to make Katrina an unindicted co-conspirator. I think the training, or lack of training, of the New Orleans Police Department was interjected into this case, and we had an issue of race relations in this case,” he said.
As the courtroom slowly emptied, family members reflected on the lives of Ronald Madsion and James Brissette, who were both shot and killed on the bridge.
Ronald’s brother, Remell, said, “I think there’s a degree of closure. It’s never going to bring back my brother, but to see that this is going to help the entire city of New Orleans.”
Defense attorneys say that the verdict was completely unexpected, but lead prosecutor Bobbi Bernstein credited her team and the victims’ family support for the victory.
“They’ve worked with us and they’ve patiently waited for today, and I’m in awe of them and I want to express my gratitutde to them,” she said.
Sgt. Arthur Kaufman is still out on bond, but the rest of the defendants are still being held in federal custody until sentencing in December.