NEW ORLEANS — Five former police officers involved in the shooting deaths of unarmed people here in the days after Hurricane Katrina, a case that drew national outrage and intense scrutiny to the city’s police force, pleaded guilty in federal court on Wednesday and received significantly less prison time than they originally faced.
The guilty pleas, which drew prison terms from three to 12 years, were the latest development in a wrenching 10-year saga that began when officers responding to a distress call on the Danziger Bridge on Sept. 4, 2005, opened fire on unarmed residents, killing two and injuring four.
The officers — Sergeant Kenneth Bowen, Sergeant Robert Gisevius, Officer Anthony Villavaso, and Officer Robert Faulcon, as well as a detective, Arthur Kaufman, who was assigned to investigate the shooting — were initially indicted on state charges. Those indictments were dismissed, and the officers were then charged in federal court.
The men were found guilty in 2011 and faced sentences of six to 65 years, but a federal judge threw out the convictions and ordered a retrial.
Under the terms of Wednesday’s deal, the four officers involved in the shooting received sentences ranging from seven to 12 years. The fifth man, Kaufman, who was accused of a coverup, got three years.