Four-Year Prison Term for Officer in Danziger Bridge Case

November 3, 2011

Former NOPD Lt. Michael Lohman, who admitted helping to orchestrate the cover-up of the Danziger Bridge shootings, was sentenced to four years in prison yesterday. The sentence was one year less than the maximum sentence, but two years longer than prosecutors had recommended.

Six civilians were shot by police officers in the notorious post-Katrina incident. Two civilians were killed and four were wounded.

Lohman was the highest-ranking former officer to become a prosecution witness during the trial in which five officers were convicted for their roles in the shootings and cover-up. Lohman testified that when he arrived at the scene of the shootings, he found no guns near the wounded civilians. He said the cover-up began immediately and that he ordered officers under his watch to “get their stories straight” after they offered unbelievable explanations for what had happened. Lohman also told the jury that the two draft reports he received about the incident were “so poorly written” that he had to write a false 17-page report himself.

Yesterday Lohman apologized to the victims’ families, saying his conduct was “despicable” and that he would always regret the cover-up, which he described as “the worst decision of my life.”

While describing Lohman’s actions as “reprehensible,” Romell Madison, the brother of Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old mentally challenged man killed on the bridge, said that he supported the prosecutors’ request for leniency. “Without him there was a good chance the truth would never be told,” he said of Lohman’s decision to testify. Judge Ivan Lemelle said he reduced Lohman’s sentence specifically because of Madison’s request.

Lohman is the first of the cooperating officers to catch a break in his sentencing. Despite prosecutors’ requests for leniency, the three other officers who have been sentenced to date have all received the maximum jail time.

For nearly two years, we’ve been investigating six cases of questionable police shootings in the days following Hurricane Katrina.  Watch our film Law and Disorder here.

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