Two of five former New Orleans police officers who won a new trial in connection with deadly shootings on a bridge after Hurricane Katrina are seeking release from prison.
Former Sgt. Kenneth Bowen and former Office Robert Faulcon on Tuesday asked U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt to release them pending prosecutors’ appeal of the judge’s decision in September to order a new trial.
Bowen’s attorney, Robin E. Schulberg, said her client is willing to submit to whatever conditions of release the court would choose to impose. Faulcon’s lawyer, Lindsay Larson, noted his client reliably appeared for court during an earlier, failed state case.
Prosecutors didn’t immediately respond to the requests.
Less than a week after Katrina’s 2005 landfall and levee breaches, police shot and killed two unarmed people and wounded four others on the Danziger Bridge. Bowen, Faulcon and two other former officers were convicted of federal civil rights charges stemming from the shootings and a subsequent cover-up.
A fifth former officer, Arthur Kaufman, was convicted of charges that he orchestrated the cover-up. Kaufman, who wasn’t charged in the shootings themselves, was serving a six-year prison sentence when Engelhardt agreed last month to free him on bond pending a new trial that hasn’t been scheduled yet.
All of the officers charged in the shootings have remained in custody since they surrendered to federal authorities following their 2010 indictment. Before Engelhardt’s granting of a new trial, Bowen was serving a 40-year prison sentence, while Faulcon received a 65 year sentence.
Engelhardt cited allegations of “grotesque” prosecutorial misconduct in his decision to throw out their convictions. The Justice Department has appealed his ruling.
Schulberg argued that her client’s prolonged detention is unconstitutional under the circumstances.
“Bowen is not the cold-blooded killer that the government made him out to be but rather a diligent police officer who answered another officer’s call for help in the midst of the lawlessness and violence which followed the worst natural catastrophe in New Orleans’ history,” she wrote.
Lindsay argued that the prosecutorial misconduct identified by Engelhardt will undoubtably come up at a new trial, making new convictions of the officers less certain.