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The New Orleans police

A bad shoot
Gradually, the story emerges of what happened on the Danziger bridge

A WEEK after Hurricane Katrina struck NewOrleans, on September 4th 2005, the police shot six civilians as they were crossing the Danziger bridge across the Industrial Canal. Two were killed; the others were seriously wounded, one losing an arm.On February 24th a high-ranking officer with a long police career pleaded guilty to orchestrating a vast cover-up of what took place there. It is likely to be only the start of a traumatic reckoningfor the city’s long-troubled police department. Police officers at first portrayed the shoot-out as a heroic victory by lawmen over the lawless. The official version was that some of the civiliansinvolved had been shooting at the police, but the police rallied and justice prevailed. That story was quickly contested. No guns were collected from the scene, and the victims said the police’s claimswere bunk. They insisted they were ambushed by officers, though some also mentioned a group of teenagers near the bridge shooting at passers-by. One of the dead, shot in the back by police, wasretarded, and the other victims were generally respectable citizens. A state grand jury saw things the victims’ way, and charged seven officers with murder. But that case fell apart because of a mistake bylocal prosecutors. Federal investigators promised to take another look, but the true picture of what happened on the bridge nearly five years ago has been slow to take shape. Last week’s guilty pleaoffered a startling new perspective. Lieutenant Michael Lohman admitted that he had immediately recognised the Danziger incident as a ―bad shoot‖, and set about concealing it. He agreed that a gun shouldbe planted under the bridge, reminding a subordinate to make sure the weapon was ―clean‖. Other federal charges are on the way, and not just in this case. The FBI has confirmed that its agents are...