Eyewitness Accounts Differ in Post-Katrina Police Shooting


December 7, 2011

Prosecutors called three civilian witnesses to testify yesterday in the trial of two New Orleans police officers who shot and killed Danny Brumfield outside the convention center where thousands of post-Katrina refugees gathered in the days after the storm.

The officers are not on trial for the shooting. They are accused of perjury and obstruction of justice related to their testimony in a civil lawsuit filed by Brumfield’s family.

At the heart of the case are disputed accounts of what happened that day. Brumfield’s family says he was trying to flag down a passing police car to help a woman in distress outside the convention center; Officers Ronald Mitchell and Ray Jones say they fired on Brumfield fearing for their safety after he jumped on the hood of their police car with a shiny object in his hand. The officers also say they stopped the car to check on Brumfield.

All three witnesses say they heard the gunshot while Brumfield was on the hood of the police car. None of them saw a shiny object in Brumfield’s hand and they all recalled the police car driving away quickly without the officers stopping to check on Brumfield.

But the three witness accounts differed in the details. Each had a different recollection of from which direction Brumfield approached the police car. One witness remembered Brumfield yelling at the officers, while the other two did not.

Read more about yesterday’s testimony from our partners at the Times-Picayune.

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