A federal judge in New Orleans has overturned convictions of five city police officers charged in the shooting of unarmed civilians after Hurricane Katrina. The ruling is based on prosecution misconduct.
US District Judge Kurt Engelhardt decided that what he described as “bizarre” conduct of prosecutors warrants a new trial.
The officers were convicted in the shooting deaths of two people and the wounding of four others as they walked across a bridge to find shelter. It came days after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 left most of the city in chaos.
The judge said online comments on a news website coming from prosecutors fueled a “carnival atmosphere” that tainted the trial. The officers were convicted of civil rights violations and are serving sentences ranging from six to 65 years.
There is no word yet on whether the government will appeal the ruling.