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Ex-cop admits role in Katrina shootings
Tue Jul 12, 2011 7:7AM|
Victims of the Katrina disaster in 2005 try to inform rescue workers of their plight (File photo).
A former US detective has admitted to his involvement in a plot to cover up police shootings of civilians in the chaotic days following the 2005 Hurricane Katrina that hit the country's southern states.
The police official, Jeffrey Lehrmann, who has appeared as a witness in the government's trial of five officers implicated in the shootings, disclosed on Monday that he helped distort reports, trump up testimony, and use a gun as false evidence to vindicate illegal police actions in the case, The Associated Press reported.
Shootings of unarmed, disaster-stricken residents by US police officers were reported on a bridge in the major city of New Orleans on September 4, 2005, killing two and injuring four others.
One of the victims, shot dead with seven bullets, was reportedly suffering from mental problems.
Five current and former American police officers are on trial for their involvement in the cover-up of malfeasance perpetrated by the local law-enforcement in the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, which left nearly 2,000 residents dead and tens of thousands more, mostly poor families, stranded and left homeless.
One of the deadliest natural catastrophes in the history of the United States, Hurricane Katrina also inflicted an estimated property damage of $81 billion.
The then government of President George W. Bush was widely criticized for its terrible management of the Katrina disaster, which took a heavy toll on mostly poor African American residents of New Orleans.
Many African American families have been forced to leave their homes and their city, unable to secure promised federal aid to rebuild their homes. Instead, wealthy outsiders and major developers have been allowed to manipulate the disaster situation to cheaply purchase ruined land and homes for investment.
Many lawyers and rights activists have warned against the epidemic of systematic police brutality in the United States, which is usually practiced under the pretext of “war on crime” or “war on drugs” and has particularly affected ethnic minorities, such as African Americans, Latinos and Asians in the country.
As a former Probation Officer I've seen too many coverups in law enforcement. Until this code of loyalty is broken we will unfortunately face these type of situations again and again.Paul Harris Author, "Diary From the Dome, Reflections on Fear and Privilege During Katrina"