Lawyers for the four current and former New Orleans police officers charged with killing civilians in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will meet with Justice Department lawyers today to urge the DOJ not to pursue the death penalty.
The four were charged in July with violating the civil rights of unarmed civilians on the Danziger Bridge when they allegedly opened fire, killing two and wounding four, and then, allegedly, covered up what happened on the bridge.
The Justice Department has not said whether it will pursue the death penalty.
Lawyers for the accused told the New Orleans Times-Picayune they don’t expect to sway the DOJ’s eventual decision.
“It is just a chance to be heard,” said attorney Frank DeSalvo, who represents one of the officers. “I don’t think what we say will affect something one way or another.”
All four have pleaded not guilty.
Capital punishment on federal charges, especially against police officers, is rare. According to the Times-Picayune, there is only one police officer in the country on federal death row: another former New Orleans cop convicted of ordering the murder of a woman who complained about his drug-protection racket.
Several other officers have pleaded guilty to charges related to the shootings. Two others have been charged by the DOJ for conspiring to cover up what happened, and pleaded not guilty. They do not face the death penalty.