3.15.2010

Deadly Katrina police coverups unraveling?

by Jesse Muhammad for The Final Call Newspaper

(FinalCall.com) - Within weeks of the Crescent City celebrating a victory in the Super Bowl, one of its former law enforcement officials pleaded guilty to covering up a deadly shooting during the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has initiated further probes into several shootings amid charges of plots and cover-ups inside the New Orleans Police Department.

On March 4, the FBI announced that it has opened up several cases since Lt. Michael Lohman, who retired from the department in early February, confessed in federal court that he participated in a conspiracy to justify shootings of six unarmed flood survivors after Katrina on the Danziger Bridge.

“Their (officers) jobs are to help individuals and protect us, not to hurt us. Sadly, sadly, we come across in the course of our work here ... officers who violate their oaths of office, who occasionally violate their duties, violate their commitment to serve the public. And we take actions against those individuals wherever they violate federal law. We will continue to do that,” said U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, during a news conference on Feb. 24 following Mr. Lohman's plea.

Mr. Lohman, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice with fellow officers, says he falsified police documents to impede the investigation, failed to order the collection of evidence, engaged in misleading conduct to skew truthful reporting, plotted to plant false evidence, and lied to investigators who were probing the activity of the New Orleans Police Dept.

“Four and half years later is too late. I was saying this was true back then but nobody wanted to listen. Justice delayed is justice denied,” Malik Rahim told The Final Call.

Mr. Rahim heads the grassroots group Common Ground, which to date has serviced half a million Katrina survivors via its health clinic. “It's sad that it took these White folks to keep a case like this alive. Every African American leader should be ashamed of themselves because there was no outcry when we said this four years ago. It's a shame.”

[CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REPORT]



Story Update Preview
In an upcoming edition of The Final Call look for a follow up to this report regarding a guilty plea made by another NOPD officer in this same cover up plus insight from former Orleans Parish D.A. Eddie Jordan who originally took this case to a grand jury four years ago. I am also taking a look into the alleged framing of Jamil Joyner at the hands of the NOPD during Katrina. Keep reading the Final Call!