Four ex-policemen who shot six unarmed civilians in New Orleans, days after Hurricane Katrina, killing two of them, have been given lengthy jail terms.
They opened fire after responding to a radio call that police were being shot at near a bridge. The
federal government brought the prosecution after local efforts failed.
“What we learned through this trial, what we
learned in these convictions is that the Constitution never takes a holiday,” said Tom Perez, US Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. “The Constitution applies every day of every week and no police officer can take it upon himself or herself to suspend the Constitution.”
The four were jailed for up to 65 years. A fifth officer was given six years for trying to help cover up the crimes.
Hurricane Katrina flooded the US city of New Orleans in 2005, triggering a chaotic aftermath. An atmosphere of lawlessness prevailed and National Guard troops were brought in to bolster the overwhelmed New Orleans police.
Some 1,500 people died in the hurricane.