New Orleans cops get lengthy sentences for Danziger Bridge shootings

Cars pass over the Danziger Bridge July 14, 2010, in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
An unidentified police officer turns the body of a man killed by police at the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans
An unidentified police officer turns the body of a man killed by police at the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans
AP/Times Picayune/Alex Brandon

(CBS/AP) NEW ORLEANS - Five former New Orleans police officers have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from six to 65 years years for their roles in the deadly shootings of unarmed residents on a bridge after Hurricane Katrina.

Former Officer Robert Faulcon was sentenced to 65 years in prison, while former Sergeants Kenneth Bowen and Robert Gisevius each received 40 years. Former Officer Anthony Villavaso also received 38 years in prison, reports CBS affiliate WWL.

Bowen, Gisevius, Villavaso and Faulcon were convicted of firearms charges in the shootings. Meanwhile, Former Sergeant Arthur Kaufman, who was only convicted of having been involved in the cover-up, reportedly received 6 years in prison.

Undated photo of James Brisette, who was killed on the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans

A federal jury convicted the officers in August of civil rights violations in the shootings and subsequent cover-up.

Police shot six people, killing two, as they tried to cross the Danziger Bridge less than a week after the storm's landfall on Aug. 29, 2005. Faulcon was linked to the shooting of Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old mentally challenged man. James Brisette, 17, was also killed on the bridge in the hail of gunfire. To make the shootings appear justified, officers conspired to plant a gun, fabricate witnesses and falsify reports.

The case became the centerpiece of the Justice Department's push to clean up the troubled New Orleans Police Department.

U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt heard hours of testimony Wednesday from prosecutors, defense attorneys, relatives of shooting victims and the officers before sentencing.

Sherrell Johnson, the mother of the shooting victim Brissette, admonished the convicted officers, reports WWL.

"You're actions were harsh, cruel and abusive," she reportedly said. "What happened to your oath to protect and serve? Maybe some day God will forgive you, but I never will."

Complete coverage of the Danziger Bridge shootings on Crimesider