Two NOPD Officers Convicted in Beating Death

Today a New Orleans jury convicted two police officers in the July 2005 beating death of 48-year-old handyman Raymond Robair.

Officer Melvin Williams was convicted of kicking and beating Robair to death with a baton, violating his civil rights and obstructing justice; he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Officer Matthew Dean Moore was convicted of obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI; he faces a maximum of 25 years in prison.

ProPublica reporter A.C. Thompson examined the Robair case earlier this year as part of our joint Post Mortem investigation with ProPublica and NPR into flaws in our nationwide death investigation system. An initial autopsy by the New Orleans coroner’s office had declared Robair’s death accidental; as Thompson reported, a second autopsy performed by a forensic pathologist hired by Robair’s family documented 23 separate bruises, including a thigh contusion more than a foot long. Robair “was the victim of a beating,” the second autopsy report stated.

FRONTLINE, ProPublica and The Times-Picayune have been looking at the New Orleans Police Department in our Law & Disorder investigation, which examines a number of questionable police shootings after Hurricane Katrina. To date, two officers have been convicted and five more have pleaded guilty in the shootings. Explore the six cases we’re following here, and learn more about the troubled history of the New Orleans Police Department here.

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