In 2005, defendant HUNTER was an officer assigned to NOPD’s Seventh District. On September 4, 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the defendant and his fellow Seventh District officers were working out of a temporary station at the Crystal Palace on Chef Menteur Highway. In response to a radio call that officers on the I-10 high-rise bridge had taken fire, defendant HUNTER and other NOPD officers loaded into a large Budget rental truck, which HUNTER then drove from the Crystal Palace to the Danziger Bridge.
En route to the Danziger Bridge, Sergeant A asked to borrow an assault rifle defendant HUNTER had placed in the cab of the Budget truck. HUNTER hesitated initially, but then relented and agreed to let Sergeant A use the assault rifle.
When defendant HUNTER first observed the Danziger Bridge on September 4, 2005, he saw in the distance a handful of people casually walking on the roadway on the bridge. HUNTER realized that the people on the bridge would not know that the Budget truck held police officers who were responding to a call for assistance, so he used his left hand to fire warning shots, with his NOPD-issued handgun, out the window of the truck.
As defendant HUNTER fired these warning shots, the people on the bridge scattered and ran toward a concrete barrier separating the roadway from a pedestrian walkway. The civilians, who did not appear to have any weapons, began to climb or jump over the barrier.
Defendant HUNTER stopped the Budget truck a short distance from where he had seen people climb over the concrete barrier. As the truck rolled to a stop, Sergeant A fired an assault rifle down toward the civilians on the walkway. At one point before HUNTER got out of the truck, he saw an older black male raise his head above the barrier, and he saw Sergeant A fire at the black male. The black male did not appear to have a weapon and did not threaten the officers.
In addition to the people who jumped over the concrete barrier, defendant HUNTER saw civilians running westward, toward the top of the bridge. HUNTER got out on the driver’s side, ran to the front of the truck, and fired his handgun in the direction of the people running away up the bridge. Sergeant B, who had also run to the front of the truck, stood nearby, firing an M4-type assault rifle at the same civilians. HUNTER did not see any weapons on these civilians, and did not see them stop or turn around. They did not appear to be a threat to the officers as they ran up the bridge. HUNTER fired his handgun numerous times in the direction of these fleeing civilians, but did not believe that he struck them.
Defendant HUNTER then walked to the passenger side of the truck, where Sergeant A and other officers were lined up in a position to fire at or behind the concrete barrier. HUNTER saw Sergeant A and one or more other officers firing at or behind the barrier. Seeing that there was no threat to the officers, defendant HUNTER shouted, “Cease fire!”
When the officers stopped firing, defendant HUNTER walked toward the back of the truck on the passenger side. While defendant HUNTER was still on the passenger side of the truck, near the walkway, he saw several civilians, who appeared to be unarmed, injured, and subdued. Sergeant A suddenly leaned over the concrete barrier, held out his assault rifle, and, in a sweeping motion, fired repeatedly at the civilians lying wounded on the ground.
The civilians were not trying to escape and were not doing anything that could be perceived as a threat.
Sergeant B and other officers started running up the bridge, as defendant HUNTER moved up the bridge to where two female civilians were lying on the walkway, behind the concrete barrier. The two females were lying on the ground, hugging each other and crying in apparent pain. HUNTER saw that at least one of the females had suffered serious gunshot wounds, and that both appeared terrified. One of the females had a gaping wound on her leg, and had a large chunk of flesh missing from her calf. The other civilians were also seriously wounded, including one man who was lying face-down, not moving.
Defendant HUNTER did not see any weapons on or near any of the civilians when they were in the roadway, and he did not see any weapons on or near the civilians as they lay dead or wounded on the walkway. No officers on the east side of the bridge said that they had seen guns on or near the civilians after the shooting, and nobody asked the civilians where the guns were. At no time did any of the civilians make any statements about having fired at anyone.
Defendant HUNTER returned to the Budget truck, where he observed the assault rifle that Sergeant A had borrowed from him. The magazine that had started off fully-loaded was now empty, and the rifle was hot to the touch.
Defendant HUNTER and Sergeant A entered the cab of the Budget truck and HUNTER drove to the crest of the bridge. On or near the crest of the bridge, they met Sergeant B, who said that civilians running toward the bottom of the west side of the bridge had fired at him. HUNTER saw three black males running down the bridge, but they did not appear to have weapons or to be a threat to the officers. Sergeant B may have fired an assault rifle at the fleeing civilians.
An unmarked car driven by an officer with the Louisiana State Police (LSP) approached from the east side and stopped near the crest of the bridge. Defendant HUNTER, Sergeant B, and Officer A entered the car. Sergeant B sat in the back seat, on the driver’s side. Officer A sat in the front passenger seat. HUNTER sat behind Officer A.
As the car moved down the bridge, defendant HUNTER saw three black males running away, near the bottom of the bridge. None of the civilians appeared to be armed or to be a threat to the officers. Two men, later identified as Lance and Ronald Madison, ran down the right side of the road, while a third, older man ran down the left side. As the LSP car drove down the bridge, defendant HUNTER focused on Lance Madison, who was wearing black clothing, and Ronald Madison, who was wearing a white t-shirt, with blood on it.
As Lance Madison ran toward the Friendly Inn, a motel at the bottom of the bridge, Ronald Madison trailed approximately 20 to 30 feet behind him. The LSP car moved to cut off Lance Madison and, in so doing, briefly pulled slightly ahead of Ronald Madison, who continued to run after his brother. As Ronald Madison then ran past the slowing LSP car, heading toward the motel, he passed by defendant HUNTER and defendant HUNTER had a clear view of him. Defendant HUNTER saw blood on Ronald Madison’s shirt, and thought he might have been shot. Ronald Madison, who was running with his hands in view, had no weapon and posed no threat. Ronald Madison did not change his direction, turn around, or stop running as he passed the LSP car. Instead, Madison continued to run away, following his brother, who was a short distance ahead of him. At no time as Ronald Madison ran, did defendant HUNTER see him turn toward the officers, reach into his waistband, or make any threatening gestures.
As the unmarked LSP car pulled to a stop, Officer A, without warning, fired a shotgun at Ronald Madison’s back as Madison ran away in the direction of the motel. Defendant HUNTER immediately got out of the car and went to where Ronald Madison was lying on the ground. Ronald Madison was alive, but appeared to be dying. He was lying on his side, with two officers standing nearby. Neither defendant HUNTER nor either of the other officers searched Ronald Madison for a weapon.
As Ronald Madison lay dying on the pavement, Sergeant A ran down the bridge toward Ronald and asked an officer if Ronald was “one of them.” When the officer replied in the affirmative, Sergeant A began kicking or stomping Ronald Madison repeatedly with his foot. Sergeant A appeared to be striking Madison’s torso with as much force as he could muster. Defendant HUNTER charged toward Sergeant A, who backed off from Madison. As defendant HUNTER walked away, an officer standing nearby appeared shocked that HUNTER had confronted Sergeant A.
Shortly thereafter, Sergeant A approached defendant HUNTER and apologized for being “out of line.” Sergeant A then asked HUNTER if HUNTER “[had] a problem” with the shooting on the east side of the Danziger Bridge.
While on the west side of the Danziger Bridge, defendant HUNTER heard Lance Madison ask the officers why they had been shooting at him and his brother. Lance Madison never said that he or his brother had possessed a gun or had fired at police, and Lance Madison did not have a gun in his possession.