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Danziger Cop: ‘I Didn’t Have The Courage To Tell The Truth’

Michael Hunter1For nearly seven hours on Wednesday, federal jurors in the Danziger Bridge police shooting trial heard testimony from former NOPD Officer Michael Hunter.

Hunter, who pleaded guilty for his role in the shooting that killed two people and wounded four, is a key prosecution witness in the case. Five current and former officers are on trial for depriving the people on the bridge of civil rights and fabricating a cover story for their actions.

Hunter admitted to firing his weapon in the morning on September 4, 2005, on the Danziger Bridge.

“I wasn’t thinking straight; being stupid,” Hunter said. “Part of me was angry. I thought they had shot at a police officer. The city was in chaos. I was sending a message: don’t mess with us.”

Hunter testified he remembered seeing Sgt. Kenneth Bowen lean over a barrier and fire a number of rounds at people hiding from the bullets.

Hunter said he recalled former officer Robert Faulcon shooting 40-year-old Ronald Madison.

“He was weezing really bad,” Hunter said. “It sounded like he was having trouble breathing.”

“I could see both his hands. He didn’t have any weapons.”

Hunter said Bowen began “stomping on him [Madison] with his foot.”

“It was several times,” he said.

Hunter said months later he lied and went along with a cover-up.

“I didn’t have the courage to tell the truth,” he said.

To make matters worse he said, “Nobody thought we did anything wrong.”

Hunter paraphrased the point of view officers tried to portray.

“‘We stayed for Katrina, and we’ve been politically persecuted’,” Hunter said.

But as time passed, Hunter testified, the truth ate away at him.

“There’s nothing heroic about shooting at unarmed people that are running away.”

In January 2010, Hunter was sentenced to eight years in prison for obstruction of justice in his role in covering up his and other officers’ actions on the bridge. He will return to the stand on Thursday where defense attorneys will continue to cross examine him.