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ProPublica: Law and Disorder

After Katrina, New Orleans Police
Shot Frequently and Asked Few Questions

Fourth Person Indicted in Danziger Bridge Shootings

Danny Bourque/The Times-Picayune

The FBI closed Danziger Bridge along U.S. 90 on Sept. 26, 2009, to further investigate the controversial shooting incident that occurred there in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Federal prosecutors yesterday indicted Marion David Ryder -- known as David Ryder -- in connection with the Sept. 4, 2005, shootings on the Danziger Bridge, charging him with lying to federal agents and unlawfully possessing a handgun.

Ryder is the fourth individual to be indicted in the case. Two former New Orleans police officers have pleaded guilty; a third was indicted earlier this week.

Ryder, 45, is an intriguing character. A convicted felon with no law enforcement experience, he pretended to be a deputy sheriff working for St. Landry Parish in the days after Hurricane Katrina. Armed with a cheap 9-mm handgun, he was posing as a deputy when New Orleans Police Department officers shot six civilians on the Danziger Bridge, according to a bill of information filed in court by federal prosecutors.

Prosecutors say Ryder deceived FBI investigators during two interviews in 2009, falsely claiming he had been shot at by civilians as he chased them through a trailer park located between the bridge and a nearby highway.

Ryder's statements to NOPD sergeant Arthur Kaufman figured prominently in police reports on the bridge shootings. According to the initial report, Ryder "positively identified Lance Madison as one of several shooters who fired upon him," and said his brother, Ronald Madison, also shot at police. Ronald Madison, a mentally disabled 40-year-old man, was shot five times in the back by police and died in the parking lot of a motel at the foot of the bridge. Lance Madison was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.

Since 2008, the U.S. Department of Justice has been scrutinizing the NOPD's actions during the week after the storm made landfall, dispatching prosecutors from the department's Civil Rights Division to orchestrate a steadily widening probe. Authorities have acknowledged investigations into the deaths of Henry Glover, Danny Brumfield and Matthew McDonald, as well as the non-fatal shooting of Keenon McCann.

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The Case Files

Case One

Religious Street

There is no police report describing what happened in this photo.

Case Two

Matt McDonald

Why didn’t police tell his family he was killed by an officer?

Case Three

Danny Brumfield

How does a man waving down a police car die from a shotgun blast to his back?

Case Four

Keenon McCann

The gun police said he had was never found.

Case Five

Henry Glover

His skull and ashes were found in the back of an incinerated Chevy.

Case Six

Danziger Bridge

Officers responding to an emergency call opened fire on civilians, injuring four and killing two.

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