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Danziger Bridge Five Retrial Ordered—Because Of “Significant And Repugnant” Misconduct By Obama DOJ
“Katrina Revisionism,” the campaign to disappear ordinary Americans’ horrified reaction to the reports of barbarism that got past Main Stream Media news managers after Hurricane Katrina, has taken a heavy but (needless to say) little-reported blow. It raises the gravest questions about the integrity of the Obama Regime and Eric (“My People”) Holder’s Department of Justice— which, by the way, would get to administer any illegal alien Amnesty.
Federal Judge Kurt Engelhardt, a Bush II appointee, has just granted a motion for a new trial for five of the New Orleans policemen, including one black, convicted and sentenced for shooting six unarmed blacks, killing two, at the Danziger Bridge in the wake of Katrina, and for the subsequent cover up. In a 129-page statement, Judge Engelhardt cited rampant misconduct by members of the Obama/Holder DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, including criminal acts: at least three DOJ lawyers pseudonymously posting prejudicial comments at the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s website; lying to Judge Engelhardt about their misconduct; intimidating defense witnesses out of testifying; illegally revealing secret grand jury testimony both to fellow prosecutors trying the case, and to the Times-Picayune and the Associated Press.
Judge Engelhardt’s conclusion: “Traditional notions and concepts of criminal justice cannot be served by minimizing such misconduct and preserving a verdict under these peculiar circumstances.”
This tale of Third World justice began in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. On September 4, 2005, the seventh or eighth straight day of bloody chaos in The Big Easy, a van full of cops drove to the Danziger Bridge in response to report of shooting, jumped out and opened fire on a crowd. Police contended that they had received fire and that a gun had been found on one victim. New Orleans prosecutors charged that all the victims had been unarmed, and police had planted a weapon and created a cover-up.
The officers were charged in state court in 2005 with first-degree murder, attempted murder, and various charges related to the alleged cover-up. However, the state’s case fell apart, due to the prosecution criminally leaking secret grand jury testimony—just as the feds would later do.
Determined not to let the officers escape, George W. Bush’s Department of Justice—which, contrary to Leftist propaganda, was extremely aggressive towards white blue collar Americans accused of racial offences—charged the police with violating the victims’ federal “civil rights.” Barack Obama’s DOJ actually got to prosecute the case. At least 10 officers were originally indicted, but four took plea bargains in exchange for testifying against their fellow officers.
The result was a farce. Though several officers were convicted, in October 2011 Judge Engelhardt threw out some of the convictions, suggesting that Officer Michael Hunter, who had plea bargained, had perjured himself. Furthermore, the chief FBI investigator on the case, Special Agent William Bezak, had suborned perjury from Hunter and the federal government had made false charges against three officers. Judge Engelhardt would later charge Special Agent Bezak with “shockingly coercive tactics employed against one potential witness [NOPD Officer Heather Gore].”
Hunter’s credibility was so weak, in Engelhardt’s view, that he asked to see the handwritten notes of FBI Special Agent William Bezak, who had debriefed him. After reviewing Bezak’s notes and other court documents, the judge wrote, “the Court could only conclude that either (a) Special Agent Bezak is the worst note-taker in the history of the FBI; or (b) Hunter’s approach to the truth was so cavalier and insouciant that his word … should be accepted only with special care, utmost caution/doubt, and requisite corroboration.”
Judge Engelhardt sentenced the remaining convicted defendants, harshly, on April 4, 2012. However, even on this occasion, he questioned the prosecution:
The government's reliance on cooperating witnesses who were looking to protect themselves made the judge very uncomfortable.
“Using liars to convict liars is no way to pursue justice,” Engelhardt said.
Citing witnesses for perjury “at this trial would be like giving out speeding tickets at the Indy 500,” he added. [Judge imposes stiff sentences on 5 NOPD officers convicted in Danziger shootings by Brendan McCarthy, The Times-Picayune, last updated April 5, 2012.]
The notorious Thomas Perez, then assistant U.S. attorney general, and head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, was reported as responding
"You don't go to the witness store to pick out your witnesses." You deal with what is presented to you, he said.
But the case continued to fall apart. Astonishingly, it materialized that DOJ lawyers had frequently (and illegally) posted pseudonymous comments at the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s Web site. This was discovered by local landfill owner Fred Heebe as part of a lawsuit originating in a separate Department of Justice effort against him.
Assistant U.S. Attorney and Senior Litigation Counsel Sal Perricone; his superior, First U.S. Attorney Jan Mann; and DOJ prosecutor Karla Dobinski posted hundreds of comments under at least 16 different pseudonyms. For example, Perricone posted this in the comments thread on a December 3, 2010 story about the impending federal trial of the officers:
This case, no matter how it turns out, has revealed the NOPD to be a collection of self-centered, self-interested, self-promoting, insular, arrogant, overweening, prevaricating, libidinous fools and that the entire agency should be re-engineered from the bottom up. This case has ripped the veil of respectability away from the police department. The facts, as reported here – and if they are correct – shows a group of people who, when not having sex with each other, or beating, burning and abusing the citizens. Thank God for the Feds [DOJ] – can you imagine New Orleans without a federal presence?
Perricone also called (black) NOPD Supt. Warren Riley “racist” and “delusional,” among other things. Interestingly, he said that the NOPD had been destroyed when previous mayors imposed Affirmative Action and that former Chief Richard Pennington’s ballyhooed “reforms” were non-existent.
Having studied the NOPD for years, I can attest that Perricone’s criticisms were on-target. But as a federal prosecutor, he could not make them—NOPD officers would be appearing as witnesses, and his posts, and those by his superiors, were undermining NOPD witnesses’ credibility.
As Judge Engelhardt put it:
“Less than 65 days before the start of this trial, [DOJ Prosecutor] Dobinski took the stand to explain in detail all of her extensive efforts to protect defendant Bowen’s constitutional rights. Yet before the jury even got the case for decision, she personally fanned the flames of those burning to see him convicted.”
As more information came to light, defense attorneys for the convicted NOPD officers filed papers, asking Judge Engelhardt to throw out their clients’ convictions and sentences. The Judge initially declined to do so, but he did ask the Department of Justice for more information. The Department simply refused. Judge Engelhardt’s conclusion:
In this instance, the Court again states the obvious: this motion for new trial has evolved and is not analogous to other motions for new trial featured in the jurisprudence. In fact, it is sui generis, difficult to categorize as either one based on newly discovered evidence; one based upon prosecutorial misconduct so significant and repugnant as to undermine these proceedings; or, most likely, a combination of both.
As a result of the scandal, four DOJ figures resigned or retired: Jan Mann, who had posted using at least two aliases and lied to Judge Engelhardt that she followed the online comments at all, was among them, as was her husband, also an Assistant U.S. Attorney. Sal Perricone and Jim Letten, the longest serving U.S. Attorney in the country (who was involved in the prosecutions of both David Duke and James O’Keefe) also resigned. DOJ lawyer Carla Dobinski is still at DOJ, though presently under investigation.
Judge Engelhardt seems to believe that the defendants are in fact guilty. I’m not so sure.
Even if the officers shot the victims and conducted a cover-up, that doesn’t mean they were guilty of murder. To determine that, a jury would have to know the officers’ state of minds in terms of whether they had an intent to kill and get away with it, or whether the shooting was a tragic mistake, due to exhausted officers suffering from battle fatigue. A rigged trial is no way to determine such matters.
And contrast how another post-Katrina case was handled: Danny Brumfield, a black, was killed by two NOPD officers in front of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center during the same anarchic period. The officers, Ray Jones and Ronald Mitchell, both gave virtually identical reports, claiming Brumfield had attacked them, whereupon one officer shot him in the shoulder. Actually, the unarmed Brumfield had sought to flag down the officers, who rammed him with their squad car, and then shot him in the back.
But they are not being prosecuted for murder—only for obstruction of justice. And the decorated female detective who supposedly “investigated” the case, but did not read the coroner’s report and merely rubber-stamped their claims, was not punished. The NOPD covered up the killing, whose facts were only revealed via a lawsuit by Brumfield’s family. [Circumstances of death outside Convention Center after Hurricane Katrina are focus of trial by Brendan McCarthy, the Times Picayune, last updated December 5, 2011.]
The difference? In the Danziger Bridge case, most of the officers were white; in the Brumfield case, all of the officers involved, before and after the killing, were black.
The NOPD is certainly corrupt. But the larger and more serious problem is without a doubt the U.S. Department of Justice.
Obama claimed that the battle over the government shutdown meant the U.S. is becoming a “banana republic.”
Thanks to his Attorney General Eric Holder, he shouldn’t worry. We are already there.
Nicholas Stix [email him] is a New York City-based journalist and researcher, much of whose work focuses on the nexus of race, crime, and education. He spent much of the 1990s teaching college in New York and New Jersey. His work has appeared in Chronicles, The New York Post, Weekly Standard, Daily News, New York Newsday, American Renaissance, Academic Questions, Ideas on Liberty and many other publications. Stix was the project director and principal author of the NPI report, The State of White America-2007. He blogs at Nicholas Stix, Uncensored.