NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A new plea deal in the Danziger Bridge shootings drastically cuts the sentences for some of the former NOPD officers convicted in the case. The decision disappoints the family for one of the victims, but also makes them happy that their 11-year ordeal is over.
It was a case that made national headlines. Citizens James Brissette and Ronald Madison gunned down by police on the Danziger Bridge six days after Katrina.
Dr. Rommell Madison, the brother of one of the victims, left federal court after the new deal was accepted by Judge Kurt Engelhardt. It shortens sentences by 30 years for former officers Ken Bowen and Robert Gisevius. It also shortens the sentence of former officer Anthony Villavasso by 31 years, and Robert Faulcon's by 53 years.
"While we disagreed with the legal reasoning that overturned the convictions, we accept the underlying conduct was unacceptable," said U.S. Attorney Ken Polite, referring to accusations of prosecutorial misconduct at trial, which resulted in the old sentences being thrown out.
Faulcon now must serve 12 years instead of 65, and each officer gets six years credit for time served.
"We expect him to be released in a couple of weeks. He originally got 38 years. It was reduced to seven served almost six," said Tim Meche, attorney for Anthony Villavaso.
"Though these officers will serve time in prison, it will never be enough for what they did," said Lance Madison, the brother of victim Ronald Madison.
The judge left the door open for possible restitution for victims families after the lawsuits play out.
Defense attorneys were pleased with the judge's decision to accept the deal.
"As much as we wanted a new trial, there's no way not to accept the option of a 75 percent reduction in sentence," said Michael Fawer, attorney for Ken Bowen.
Officer Arthur Kaufman got a three-year sentence for his role in the conspiracy to obstruct justice.
"It doesn't bring closure, I may not be satisfied, but I can accept it," said Rommell Madison.
In accepting the plea deal, the five officers gave up their right to appeal.
Judge Engelhardt has asked that most of the defendants be sentenced to federal prisons in either Louisiana or Florida. Another officer, Gerard Dugue, is accused of helping cover up the crime. His trial is pending.