NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A former police officer charged in the deadly shootings of civilians after Hurricane Katrina is seeking a transfer from a federal prison while he awaits a new trial.
Robert Faulcon’s attorneys say in a federal court motion this week that he should be moved to a New Orleans area lockup from a federal maximum security prison in Atwater, California. They say the move would improve Faulcon’s safety and his ability to help with his defense.
Faulcon’s conviction on civil rights charges related to the 2005 shootings at the Danziger Bridge and the subsequent cover-up were overturned last September by a federal judge. That followed news that anonymous comments on a New Orleans newspaper’s website had been posted by prosecutors.
A co-defendant, former police Sgt. Kenneth Bowen, has already been granted a move to a New Orleans lockup.
Faulcon’s motion, filed Thursday, outlines a dilemma he faces at the Atwater prison. As an ex-police officer, he is at risk among the inmates in the prison’s general population. But if he is held in the prison’s special housing unit, where he is isolated from other prisoners, “he will be restricted to his cell for all but five hours a week, where he will be allowed only one 15-minute telephone call a month, and where his access to counsel will be limited to “snail mail.”
The motion states that Faulcon was placed in the maximum security prison because he had been sentenced to 65 years in 2012. But the overturning of his 2011 conviction means he is now a pretrial detainee, the motion notes.
The charges stemmed from the killing of two people and the wounding of four others on the Danziger Bridge less than a week after Hurricane Katrina hit on Aug. 29, 2005. Faulcon, Bowen and two others were charged in connection with the shootings and cover-up. A fifth suspect, a now-retired sergeant, was charged in the cover-up.
Their August 2011 convictions were overturned by U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt, who ruled the case had been tainted by “grotesque prosecutorial misconduct” by at least three government attorneys who posted anonymous online comments.
Federal prosecutors have appealed Engelhardt’s decision.