Brother of Danziger victim speaks out on reduced sentences

Brother of Danziger victim speaks out on reduced sentences

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - It's been five days since a federal judge imposed drastically reduced sentences on five former police officers involved in the post-Katrina shooting deaths on the Danziger Bridge. Now,  the brother of one of the victims is speaking out on what he calls a "miscarriage of justice."

"It doesn't bring closure, I may not be satisfied, but I can accept it," said Romell Madison, the brother of one of the men who was killed.

Sentences were shortened by 30 to 50 years for three of the five officers involved, and the implications are now starting to sink in for Madison, who believes there's been a miscarriage of justice.

"I took a backstep. I thought justice was achieved in 2011," he said.

But that didn't happen. The original sentences were thrown out after judge Kurt Engelhardt learned that three members of the prosecution team were posting inappropriate comments on line.

"Since when does the prosecution become the villains in a proven killing?" said Madison.

His comments vary widely from other victims' family opinions.

"I finally got what I wanted - someone to confess," said Sherrel Johnson, the mother of victim James Brissette, last week.

"I think that was the wrong choice. They never checked with the jury, never checked the blogs. But there were 100 times more people supporting police," said Madison.

Madison said in spite of serious missteps over the last 11 years at the state and federal levels, there have been some signs of positive change. New Orleans police officers now have Tasers and a consent decree, which many believe has gone a long way toward correcting abuses in the use of force.

"I think the new police department will be more on guard about not overstepping their bounds," said Madison.

The memory of what happened remains fresh.

"They killed two people wounded two more, and shot one woman's arm off. It's horrific what they did. Anyone else would have gotten life or the death penalty,' said Madison.

But some of the officers involved, may actually walk free in a matter of weeks.

Madison said he and other family members were consulted on the revised sentences, but he said there was little negotiation. Last week, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite said while this is an imperfect resolution, the plea deal assured the Danziger  defendants would be held accountable for their actions.

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