New Orleans Police Charged for Katrina Shootings
The Department of Justice has filed civil rights charges against six current or former New Orleans police officers. The charges stem from the killing of two men and the wounding of four other persons in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Four of the officers could face the death penalty if convicted.
- Police may not use unreasonable or excessive force
- Victims unarmed and peaceable, cover-up also alleged
- Notorious civil rights violations include Rodney King case
Civil Rights Violations Alleging Excessive Force
The Constitution prohibits police from using unreasonable or excessive force. Federal statutes put the rule in effect. Many excessive force cases arise in crowd control situations like organized demonstrations. Others occur after natural disasters like hurricanes when order breaks down. Sometimes they result from attempts to resist arrest.
Chaos swept New Orleans in the days after the hurricane. Flooding forced many residents from their homes to the streets. Reports of looting and violence were widespread. The officers were responding to reports of attacks on police when the shootings occurred. The indictment also alleges a conspiracy to cover-up the crimes.
One of the more notorious civil rights prosecutions came after Los Angeles police beat Rodney King while arresting him. A state court jury acquitted the officers of brutality charges, sparking riots. Two of the four were later convicted in federal court of violating King’s civil rights.
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