In federal court Tuesday, former New Orleans Police Lt. Michael Lohman testified he and former detective Arthur Kaufman, who is standing trial for falsifying records of a deadly police shooting on the Danziger Bridge in the days following Hurricane Katrina, fabricated three reports about what happened there.
Two people were killed, and four others were seriously injured on the bridge. Four other current and former NOPD officers are accused of participating in the shooting and conspiring to cover up their actions.
According to Lohman, all of the reports said the dead victims were armed with guns. He said the reports stated Ronald Madison, 40, and James Brissette, 17, fired on officers as they arrived in a Budget rental truck, and Sergeants Kenneth Bowen and Robert Gisevius fired their Glock handguns. Lohman testified they actually fired rifles.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Bobbi Bernstein asked Lohman if any guns were collected on the bridge, and Lohman replied, “No.”
Lohman testified Kauffman dropped four hand guns to frame the victims.
Bernstein asked, “You mentioned Kaufman said he was going to ‘drop a gun’….Was the gun found?” Lohman answered, “Yes.”
Bernstein asked, “Were any of those weapons used in the shooting?”
Lohman replied, “No they weren’t.”
During a break in proceedings outside of court, New Orleans defense attorney Robert Jenkins said Lohman’s testimony could be tough for the defense to overcome so early in the trial.
“They haven’t even started the cross examination and you can see how powerful his testimony was,” Jenkins said. “It’s very difficult, but you’ve just got to keep trying to chip away at it.”
Jenkins said the defense will probably try to discredit the testimony by pointing to a plea deal Lohman made with prosecutors in 2010 for obstruction of justice in the Danziger case.
“They going to try to say, well, he’s got a deal to try to help himself, but the point is that the jury…I mean he’s very strong, very credible and it’s going to hurt.”
Later in the day, defense attorneys were able to cross examine Lohman, and he conceded that the final reports on the Danziger case were written by him. He will be back in the witness chair for more cross examination on Wednesday.