NEW ORLEANS, La. – Six of the seven police officers indicted in a deadly shooting after Hurricane Katrina returned to work Monday, unarmed and in low-profile jobs, a development that one black leader said erodes public confidence in the department.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has decided to ask the U.S. Attorney and the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the shootings that killed two black men and wounded four other people, said Danatus King, president of the New Orleans branch of the NAACP.
The officers were freed on bail — highly unusual in first-degree murder cases — and hundreds of people turned out to cheer them when they turned themselves in.
King said the officers could have access to police records and other information that might reveal the identities of witnesses who might testify against them.
"None of them have access to the public or to sensitive records," said Assistant Police Superintendent Marlon Defillo.
Four officers face first-degree murder charges and attempted murder charges in the Sept. 4, 2005, shootings. Two were charged with attempted first-degree murder, and one was charged with attempted second-degree murder.
The shootings killed Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old mentally retarded man, and James Brissette, 19.
Two officers now work in the police department's horse stables, two are entering data on computers, and two are working in communications, Defillo said. The seventh man has left his job. The officers are not allowed to wear uniforms, make arrests or carry weapons. They continue to wear ankle bracelets that monitor their whereabouts.
Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan has until Feb. 1 to decide if he will ask for the death penalty for the four facing first-degree murder.