No charges in post Katrina Bridge incident


A grand jury has
declined to bring criminal charges against anyone in the 2005 police
blockade that kept hundreds from crossing the Mississippi River to
safety after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans, the district
attorney’s office said Wednesday.

hundred people claimed police from suburban Gretna prevented them from
crossing as they tried to flee New Orleans on Sept. 1, three days after
the storm hit and floodwaters inundated the city. One officer, Lawrence
Vaughn, allegedly fired a shot during the confrontation.

But a New Orleans grand jury on Wednesday declined to indict Vaughn on
a criminal charge, said Dalton Savwoir, a spokesman for District
Attorney Eddie Jordan.

From theTimes Picayune:

Vaughn, who for years has been assigned to a security detail at the
Jefferson Parish courthouse in Gretna, fired the gun only after people
threatened to throw him and another officer off the bridge if they did
not let pedestrians pass, sources have said.

“He is the only person in question who discharged a weapon that day,” Sept. 1, 2005, Savwoir said.


Attempts by The Times-Picayune and the American Civil Liberties Union’s
Louisiana branch to get the investigative reports were unsuccessful.

You may recall theaccount from 2 paramedics who had been in NOLA for a convention and were on the bridge:

Lorrie Beth Slonsky
and Larry Bradshaw heard shots as they trudged up the incline to the
Greater New Orleans Bridge, but the San Francisco paramedics had grown
accustomed to the sound of guns during the three days they’d been stuck
in the flooded city.

Suddenly the crowd ahead of them began to scatter, shouting that cops up ahead were shooting at them.

assuming there was some misunderstanding, held up his paramedic badge
and made his way to the line of officers at the foot of the bridge. He
explained that the hordes of people were just trying to evacuate and
they’d heard that buses were waiting across the bridge, in the suburb
of Gretna.

officers, their guns poised, told them that pedestrians weren’t allowed
across. In Slonsky and Bradshaw’s recollection, the police said “This
is not New Orleans,” and “We’re not having any Superdomes down here.”
As they retreated, the cops fired shots over their heads.

Lawsuits are pending yet in the matter though. From the TP article:

Of the lawsuits, one seeks class-action certification. Another, filed
by New Orleans residents Tracy and Dorothy Dickerson, is set for trial
on Jan. 20 before U.S. District Court Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon, who
is presiding over all four lawsuits filed in federal court.

UPDATE: The Times Picayune (actually which is the “exclusive online content provider of The Times-Picayune”) needs to revisit allowing comments to their articles. The racist crap I read in their comment sections time and time again is an embarrassment to the paper and the people of New Orleans.

8 thoughts on “No charges in post Katrina Bridge incident

  1. I had to go look at a map again. For a moment there I was certain New Orleans was in Haiti or some other Central American nation. How can anyone think about this without extreme embarrassment for our country? American police using a gun to prevent people from leaving a flooded city looking for safety? I just can’t comprehend that. For no one to be indicted for this is even harder to accept. If ever a federal intervention is necessary this is the time. (Yes, I know who our president is, but still…)

  2. Scout, I agree with you that the racist comments posted on are horrendous, but I also think it’s better that they are out in the open. If they aren’t out there for all to see, it’s a lot harder to convince people who have never been to the South or to Louisiana that cops would really shoot at minorities trying to cross a bridge to safety.
    Unless you’ve seen that kind of racism close up, it’s hard to believe people could be so hateful.

  3. comments are a difficult read, people are awful. What they should do is moderate the comments to eliminate the vitriolic hatefulness. I would hate to see them eliminate the forum all together.
    It is unfortunate that the Times-Pic provides such an incomplete resource for bloggers, readers, citizens, etc. They need to increase the accessibility and raise the discourse of democratic discussion on their website.
    They should not eliminate it all together.

  4. I couldn’t get through the full set of comments attached to the article. I grew up in the south and am very familiar with the racism of bigoted whites. It’s sick, sad, pathetic and vile.
    The appeals to “respect for authority” are a reminder of how quickly this nation could slip into fascism.

  5. This was the BIG story, Why hasn’t any Major network had the BALL’S to cover it??? Come on 60 minutes, Ya bunch of pussy’s . Anderson Cooper do you only cover the easy one’s? Somebody better step up, this was the Civil rights violation of the Decade and nobody is covering it!
    Frustrated, Robert Hill

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