Jurors Discuss Danziger Bridge Verdict

August 23, 2011

Four jurors in the Danziger Bridge case tell the Times-Picayune that there was no single piece of evidence that caused them to find five New Orleans police officers guilty of shooting six unarmed civilians — killing two — in the days after Katrina and then covering up the crime. The incident is one of six cases of questionable post-Katrina police shootings we’ve been following with our partners at ProPublica and the Times-Picayune.

“It was an accumulation of everything,” juror Dalton LeBlanc said. “You saw [defense attorneys] grasping at straws, trying to infiltrate doubt, when a lot of the facts were there.”

The jurors said while they were sympathetic to the overwhelming challenges facing the NOPD in the days after Katrina, they were disturbed by the elaborate cover-up, and suggested that former officer Robert Faulcon — the only defendant to testify at the trial — hurt the defense case when he acknowledged the cover-up on the witness stand. “They might have had a better chance without him on the stand,” LeBlanc said. They also said they were particularly impressed by prosecutor Bobbi Bernstein. “I could be innocent and, if she questioned me, I’d be scared to death,” said one juror who requested to remain anonymous.

LeBlanc, a 66-year-old insurance agent who described himself as a Republican who doesn’t like big government, told the paper that he plans to speak about his experience at the trial at his next local Rotary Club meeting. In particular, LeBlanc was shocked by references at the trial to a “ham sandwich” — an untraceable gun that officers planted into evidence to bolster their claims civilians had been shooting at them.

Mike Thames, who served in the NOPD in the ’80s and ’90s, told us that “ham sandwich” was common parlance in the long-troubled department. “Every cop I knew carried a ham sandwich,” Thames, who himself was arrested for bank robbery, said in our film, Law & Disorder. “I carried mine with me wherever I went.”

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