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ProPublica: Law and Disorder

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

In New Orleans, New Evidence of a Beating by Police

This photo by Marko Georgiev, a freelancer for The New York Times, was shot on the afternoon of Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005. Georgiev and Times-Picayune reporter Gordon Russell pulled up on this scene at the corner of Religious and Richard streets in New Orleans. Police attempted to confiscate Georgiev's photo memory card, but took it from the wrong camera.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune has uncovered evidence that police officers physically attacked two city residents and a working photojournalist on Sept. 1, 2005, three days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall.

The story helps explain a mysterious scene we reported about last December in a joint project with the Times-Picayune and PBS’ FRONTLINE, one of a series of reports documenting violent encounters between citizens and officers of New Orleans Police Department in the aftermath of Katrina.

So far this year, federal prosecutors have charged 16 current and former NOPD officers with crimes allegedly committed after the levees failed. Two others have been indicted in connection to the death of a man just before the catastrophe.

The latest news centers on a violent encounter that occurred on Religious Street, not far from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Responding to a shooting incident, officers severely beat two handcuffed men they suspected of firing at police, leaving one of the men missing numerous teeth, reports Times-Picayune city editor Gordon Russell.

It seems the officers had the wrong guys: According to Russell, the two men weren’t armed, and police didn’t have evidence to detain or jail them.

When Lucas Oleniuk, a photographer for the Toronto Star, began clicking off photos of the episode, he got caught up in the violence. Oleniuk says police hurled him to the ground, kicked him, and seized his cameras. The cops returned the equipment but pulled out a memory card containing the digital pictures the photographer had snapped.

The New Orleans Police Department has issued no official statement on the story, though a former captain who was present that day denied seeing any physical abuse.

Russell himself witnessed the aftermath of the apparent beating – a scene he described in the December report but hadn’t been able to piece together until now.

Check out the FRONTLINE video below, and get the whole story here.

All Entries

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.

The Reporters


A.C. Thompson

Reporter
ProPublica

Tom Jennings

Producer
Frontline

Gordon Russell

City Editor
The Times-Picayune

Brendan McCarthy

Reporter
The Times-Picayune

Laura Maggi

Reporter
The Times-Picayune
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