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ProPublica: Law and Disorder

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

Case Two

McDonald, a 41-year-old native of Connecticut, was shot to death by a police officer days after Hurricane Katrina came ashore.

Matthew McDonald


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The Police Account

Bryant Wininger—at the time an NOPD lieutenant—shot McDonald to death on Sept. 3, 2005, according to a seven-page police report documenting the killing. (Wininger has since retired from the force.)

Wininger and other officers who were present said McDonald was toting a “handgun and a bottle containing an unknown liquid” in a “white plastic bag” as he stood on a street in the Marigny neighborhood.

Armed with an assault rifle, Wininger commanded McDonald to drop the sack. McDonald “ignored the order” and “reached into the bag in an attempt to remove a handgun,” the police report states.

Wininger quickly fired four times. According to the report, when the shooting stopped, Wininger and the other officers checked out McDonald and discovered “what they believed to be a single gunshot to the left back area.” The officers said they recovered a 9-mm handgun, bullets and a hunting knife from the man.

McDonald died at West Jefferson Medical Center in Marrero, La.

The police sergeant who investigated the shooting said he couldn’t locate any civilian witnesses to the incident and didn’t find any physical evidence at the scene.

The Family’s Concerns

In Connecticut, the McDonald family says they got several conflicting accounts about Matt McDonald’s death from authorities in Louisiana.

According to his brother, John McDonald, and sister-in-law, Kerry McDonald, the NOPD never revealed the basic facts of the killing to them. The McDonalds didn’t know an officer had shot Matt McDonald until a reporter contacted them. Matt McDonald’s girlfriend, Martha Dziadul, echoed their complaint. The NOPD, she said, “never ever told me the police shot him.”


The Orleans Parish coroner’s office lost Matt McDonald’s autopsy report, according to chief investigator John Gagliano. However, CNN obtained a copy of the document and provided it to a ProPublica reporter. The autopsy report shows McDonald was killed by a single gunshot to the back.

Post-Katrina Shootings by Police Get Federal Attention

Federal agents have broadened their investigation of the New Orleans Police Department and are now looking into three post-Katrina police shootings detailed in a news…

Change Log

February 16, 2010 4:14 pm EDT
CNN provided a ProPublica reporter with a copy of Matthew McDonald's autopsy, which said that McDonald was killed by a single gunshot to the back.

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


Tom Jennings


Gordon Russell

City Editor
The Times-Picayune

Brendan McCarthy

The Times-Picayune

Laura Maggi

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