A former New Orleans police officer who had pleaded guilty to his role in the post-Katrina shooting of six unarmed civilians was sentenced Wednesday to eight years in federal prison.
Michael Hunter is the second officer sentenced in the Sept. 4, 2005, incident, in which police officers opened fire on unarmed civilians as they crossed Danziger Bridge, killing two and wounding four others.
Hunter is one of 11 officers charged in the case, and one of five who has pleaded guilty. Hunter and other officers have acknowledged that they tried to cover-up evidence of the shooting.
As our partners at the Times-Picayune explain, Hunter was the first officer involved in the shooting to participate with the investigation, providing some of the most chilling details of the incident.
As part of his plea agreement, Hunter provided more details about that day and said that an NOPD sergeant had fired at wounded civilians from a close range with an assault rifle, even after it was clear that the group was not a threat. He also said he saw Officer Robert Faulcon fire a shotgun at a man’s back as the man fled.
Hunter’s guilty plea came after he acknowledged that he had fired his gun on the bridge that day and that he had participated in the cover-up. His sentence of eight years in prison is the maximum possible under the law, although he will be eligible for a sentence reduction.
ProPublica, the Times-Picayune and PBS FRONTLINE have been investigating the circumstances around the shootings of 10 unarmed civilians by NOPD in the days after Hurricane Katrina. Five NOPD officers are currently on trial in one of those cases—the shooting death of Henry Glover. The trial of other officers involved in the Danziger Bridge case is scheduled for June 2011.