NEW ORLEANS, La. – All seven policemen charged in the deadly bridge shootings after Hurricane Katrina will be allowed to post bail, and the six still on the New Orleans Police force can return to limited duty, a judge said Friday.
The seven men pleaded not guilty in court Friday to murder or attempted murder charges.
Four of the officers face counts of first-degree murder that carry a possible death sentence. A grand jury indicted the seven last week in connection with the Sept. 4, 2005, shootings on the city's Danziger Bridge that killed two men and wounded four other people.
Bail on a first-degree murder charge is rare in Louisiana and activists who had gathered outside the courthouse prior to the hearing protested allowing it.
As one of the officers left the courthouse, surrounded by attorneys and police officers, a small group of activists shouted "murderer."
At least some of the indicted men will be required to wear monitoring devices if they post bail and will be confined to home, work, attorney visits and court appearances, Judge Raymond Bigelow said Friday. One of the seven now works as a truck driver in Texas.
New Orleans Police Department spokeswoman Bambi Hall said Superintendent Warren Riley would have no comment on when or where the officers would return to work.
Exactly what happened that day on the Danziger Bridge remains unclear. The hurricane had hit the city a few days earlier, flooding 80 percent of it, and there were widespread reports of lawlessness, looting and violence.
Police say that the indicted officers were responding to a report of other officers being attacked at the bridge and that one of the victims, 40-year-old Ronald Madison, was reaching for a gun.
Madison's brother, Lance, has said that his mental retarded brother wasn't armed and that the two were running from a group of teens who had opened fire when seven men jumped out of a rental truck and also shot at them without warning.