New Orleans releases details in $13.3 million civil rights case settlements

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City officials have released the details of settlement agreements it reached with the families of three major civil rights cases that occured before and after Hurricane Katrina. Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced the total amount of the settlements, $13.3 million, but the city did not release the details of the agreements or what each of the 17 plaintiffs were receiving (NOLA.com).

 

The city released all but one of the settlement agreements in response to a NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune public records request. The settlements cover three separate incident, all of which involved the police-involved killings of unarmed civilians (NOLA.com).

 

Two of the incidents occurred after Hurricane Katrina: a police-involved shooting that maimed one woman and left two men dead on the Danziger Bridge, and the shooting and subsequent cover-up of Henry Glover. The murder of Raymond Robair, in a fatal beating delivered by a police officer now serving a 21-year sentence, occurred about a month before the storm (NOLA.com).

 

The settlements bring closure to what’s been a difficult series of court battles for victims and their family members, who in one case watched as a police officer successfully appealed his conviction and won an acquittal in a new trial. In the Danziger Bridge killings, officers received reduced sentences after entering guilty pleas following convictions that were thrown out as a result of prosecutorial misconduct (NOLA.com).

 

The City Council has approved a plan to take out loans to pay the cost of the settlements (NOLA.com).

 

Here’s a look at the settlements in detail (NOLA.com).

 

Bartholomew family: $3.25 million (NOLA.com).

 

The Bartholomew family filed suit against the city in 2006, about one year after Hurricane Katrina. According to the lawsuit, the family chose not to evacuate ahead of the impending storm, in part because one family member was an employee of the Sewerage and Water Board.

 

According to the suit, the family of Lesha, Leonard III, Susan and Leonard IV were on Chef Menteur Highway crossing Downman Road on the Danziger Bridge with a nephew, Jose Holmes, and his friend, James Brissette, when several New Orleans police officers arrived in a rental truck they had commandeered and began firing on the family without warning. Lesha and Susan Bartholomew were each struck four times; the elder Leonard suffered three gunshot wounds. Susan Bartholomew’s arm was so badly injured, it had to be amputated.

 

Leonard Bartholomew IV escaped injury.

 

Also on the bridge with the Bartholomews was a nephew, Jose Holmes, who suffered five bullet wounds, and James Brisette, who was fatally shot. Brisette’s family and Holmes were not party to the Bartholomew family’s lawsuit (NOLA.com).

 

The family sought a total of $29 million, broken down this way: Lesha Bartholomew had sought $8.1 million; Susan Bartholomew had sought  $13.75 million; and Leonard

Bartholomew III and Leonard Bartholomew IV together sought $7.2 million. The compensation requests were broken down into categories, with dollar amounts for pain and suffering; deprivation of civil rights; punitive damages; lost wages and “loss of consortium, society and affection” (NOLA.com).

 

Five police officers were charged in connection with the Danziger Bridge.

 

The four accused of doing the shooting were sentenced to between seven and 12 years in prison.

 

In exchange for the payment, the family agreed to drop all claims against the city.

 

See the full article here.

 

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