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article imageGuilty plea details conspiracy against N.O. hurricane victims

By Carol Forsloff     Feb 25, 2010 in Crime
Resolution comes slowly to some victims of great horror. For people of New Orleans, in black communities, the shooting of innocents on a bridge saw judgment come slowly, with the admission of police crimes at the highest levels.
Today the Times Picayune reports on a cover-up it describes of "shocking breadth" that involves a New Orleans police supervisor who pleaded guilty to federal obstruction. Lt. Michael Lohman admitted that he was involved in a major conspiracy to justify shooting six unarmed people after Hurricane Katrina.
Lohman, who retired from the department earlier this month, is said to have provided what the New Orleans flagship newspaper points out are "explosive details" about the cover-up. He admitted helping put together false reports and assisting in a plan to plant a gun under a bridge, then lied to investigators who attempted to question police actions in reference to the shooting of folks whom others reported were only searching for food.
The extensive article goes on to detail the story of what happened to the six victims on the bridge and what occurred following the shooting. The six victims included Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old mentally disabled man, James Brissette, 19, both of whom were killed and Susan Bartholomew who lost part of her arm in the shooting while her husband, Leonard Bartholomew II was shot in the head. Leisha Bartholomew, their daughter, as well as a nephew, Jose Holmes, also were shot several times. A young man named Lance Madison was charged with firing on officers, provoking the subsequent shootings. The recent admission by Lohman is helping to unravel facts that reveal unnecessary killing of unarmed victims during a time of great tragedy and a cover-up of the killing by people whom prosecutors remind us are sworn to protect and uphold the law.
While television cameras and news broadcasters followed police stories about armed thugs roaming the city, it was found later, like the story unfolding today, that many people who were discovered wandering the streets were there to look for the things they needed to survive. It was a time, described by some of the storm's victims, of chaos and great tragedy. Will today's story begin to undo what one writer declares was exaggeration of the news in order to sell stories in a time when the real truth wasn't known?
One writer, who describes himself as the brother of a police officer, talks of how exaggerated many of the accounts were during the chaos that occurred in the days subsequent to the great storm. What he says happened is this: "The job of a reporter is to "feed the beast" by providing information (news stories). However, situations like New Orleans in the week after Katrina are an information vacuum. When there is little or no verifiable info, reporters will take tidbits of unverified info and make them into stories."
Resolution comes slowly for victims and families, as the story in the New Orleans pointed out today. In the meantime these new findings of a cover-up concerning police shootings of innocent people will perhaps bring a better and more thorough understanding of what happened during those early days following Hurricane Katrina and how those who were to protect and rescue turned against people who needed help the most.
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