Katrina shooting liar gets jail time

2011-09-15 09:17
Washington - A US man who lied to investigators about a shooting after police killed two civilians in the days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005 was sentenced to eight months prison, the US Justice Department said on Wednesday.

David Marion Ryder had pleaded guilty in April 2010 to illegally possessing a firearm and lying to the FBI during an investigation of the deadly incident on the Danziger Bridge, which also left four civilians seriously wounded.

Ryder was armed and dressed as a police officer on September 4 2005, the day that New Orleans police shot to death two unarmed black men on the bridge.

Immediately after the shooting Ryder - a convicted felon who was prohibited from carrying a firearm - told New Orleans police investigators that he had seen a civilian, Lance Madison, firing a weapon at police officers.

Madison, whose brother Ronald, a 40-year-old mentally disabled man, was one of the two civilians killed during the bridge shooting, was arrested in part based on Ryder's false statement, but was soon released and no charges were presented.

Cover-up

Ryder later admitted that he lied to FBI investigators when he made the shooting claim.

"The defendant lied to federal investigators about a horrendous incident that occurred during a devastating time for New Orleans," said Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

Ryder was also sentenced to eight months of home detention once his prison sentence is over, the statement said.

Ten New Orleans police officers were convicted in a federal probe into the incident for either being involved in the shooting or the subsequent cover-up.

A jury on August 5 convicted five of the officers over the incident. Four of them were found guilty on 25 counts and could now face life imprisonment.

The fifth officer, a supervisor involved in investigating the shootings, was charged with leading the cover-up and could face 120 years in prison.

Katrina smashed through the city's poorly maintained levees on August 29 2005, causing the Gulf waters to flood in swallowing up 80% of New Orleans and leaving thousands stranded on their rooftops.

Reports of widespread looting and armed gangs roaming the city shifted the government's already botched response to the disaster from humanitarian aid to a military operation.
- SAPA

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