Former NOPD officers sentenced for Danziger bridge shootings

New Orleans LA. - After powerful testimony from both the victims and friends and family of the former officers who were convicted, Judge Kurt Englehardt imposed stiff sentences.

"This is an important part in the healing process," says U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.

Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Anthony Villavaso and Robert Falcon were convicted of firearm charges in the shootings. Retired Sgt. Arthur Kaufman, who was assigned to investigate the shootings, was convicted of helping to cover-up the crime.

Faulcon received the stiffest sentence of 65 years in prison. His attorney, Paul Flemming, says he has mixed emotions about the sentencing.

"Obviously we're happy that the judge agreed with some of our arguments but we are disappointed with the length of the sentence of 65 years. We will appeal that," says Flemming.

Faulcon is the only officer tied to shooting death of Ronald Madison. Madison, a 40 year old mentally challenged man, was shot in the back and died on the bridge.

"Me and my brother Ronald, we were very close. He was special to me and we loved each other. I really miss him," says Lance Madison.

Madison's family told the courtroom, he was killed with 'no mercy'. While the family is satisfied with the sentences, they say the pain of what happened still lingers.

"It's been very traumatic and devastating. We are still having problems dealing with this and I hope that one day when this is all over we will be able to get back to our lives," says Lance Madison.

Bowen and Gisevius each got 40 years, while Villavaso was sentenced to 38 years in prison.

Kaufman received the lightest sentence of six years. He was the only one of the five defendants who was not involved in the shootings, but was convicted of covering it up.

The Danziger Bridge shooting case became the centerpiece of the Justice Department's push to clean up the NOPD.

Head of the Department's Civil Rights Division, Tom Perez, calls the sentencing of the former officers, a somber but important day for justice.

"No police officer can take it upon himself or herself to suspend the constitution and today's sentences are again a reminder that we live in a society of laws and not of men who can take the law into their own hands," says Tom Perez.

It was nearly seven years ago when police shot six people, killing two on the Danziger Bridge in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Perez commended the victims for staying strong and having faith for so many years, saying finally justice has been served.