Many families throughout New Orleans have been celebrating since the city recently agreed to pay $13.3 million to settle lawsuits with 17 plaintiffs. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the chaos that ensued, these plaintiffs ended up suing the city of New Orleans for wrongful deaths and injuries, deprivation of civil rights and lost wages caused by instances of police brutality.
Recently, the New Orleans Mayor, Mitch Landrieu, acknowledged the events that led to the lawsuits and stated in a press conference that “the brutal Henry Glover, Danziger Bridge, and Raymond Robair incidents left us all disappointed and ashamed. On behalf of the City, we are so sorry these families have had to endure this hurt. After over 11 years, we have reached a settlement with these victims and families to take responsibility and begin healing.”
But what do the settlements cover, and how does the city plan on paying them? Well, the city plans on taking out loans to pay for the settlements that cover three different incidents. The three incidents include:
- A Police-Involved Shooting that Maimed One Woman and Killed Two Men On the Danziger Bridge
- The Shooting and Cover-Up Of Henry Glover
- The Beating and Murder Of Raymond Robair By a Police Officer
As a result of the investigations and cases surrounding the above events, a total of eleven police officers “pleaded guilty to charges related to the bridge shootings, which took place less than a week after Katrina’s landfall.” According to CBS, the charges included falsified reports and fabricated witnesses, as well as a cover-up with a planted gun. However, the convictions for five of the officers related to the bridge shootings were thrown out after evidence of prosecutorial misconduct was discovered, according to reports from the Associated Press. As a result, a new trial for the five officers was ordered, and all five officers eventually pleaded guilty.
One of the families receiving a settlement is the Bartholomew family, a family that sought $29 million, but was awarded $3.25 million. The family sued the city back in 2006 for damages incurred during the Danziger Bridge incident. According to the lawsuit filed by the family:
“The family of Lesha, Leonard III, Susan and Leonard IV were on Chef Menteur Highway crossing Downman Road on the Danziger Bridge with a nephew, Jose Holmes, and his friend, James Brissette, when several New Orleans police officers arrived in a rental truck they had commandeered and began firing on the family without warning. Lesha and Susan Bartholomew were each struck four times; the elder Leonard suffered three gunshot wounds. Susan Bartholomew’s arm was so badly injured, it had to be amputated.”
City officials hope that the settlements will bring closure for victims and their families, especially those who have endured difficult court battles over the years.