The trial of five former or current New Orleans Police Department officers accused of violating the civil rights of people crossing a bridge in the days following Hurricane Katrina continued Monday at federal court, with questioning of former Officer Jeffrey Lehrmann.
In his testimony, Lehrmann said he and others lied to cover up officers’ actions on the Danziger Bridge to avoid prosecution.
Lehrmann, now a government witness, testified “part of the cover up started with the planting of a gun.” Lehrmann said he first saw the revolver inside of a sandwich bag.
Lehrmann testified he asked Sgt. Arthur Kaufman what was in the bag, and Kaufman responded “a ham sandwich.”
Kaufman is facing 10 felony counts, including conspiracy and falsification of records.
Lehrmann testified he asked if the gun was clean, and Kaufman responded the gun was to be planted near the “B family,” as in the Bartholomew family. Several members of the Bartholomew family were shot by police on the bridge.
Lehrmann also told the court Kaufman initially told him that one of the officers shot an innocent man. According to Lehrmann, he was talking about Officer Robert Faulcon who allegedly shot Ronald Madison eight times in the back as Madison tried to run away.
On cross examination, defense attorney Steven London challenged Lehrmann’s assertions, instead trying to show that Lehrmann and former NOPD Lt. Michael Lohman came up with the cover stories.
Lohman pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice in February 2010 in this case.
London suggested Kaufman may have been on vacation when the reports and statements were taken.
Lehrmann testified he didn’t recall Kaufman taking a vacation.
London said, “Could he have?”
Lehrmann responded, “Anything is possible, I don’t recall.”
London pressed, “Is it possible he did?”
Lehrmann conceded, “It’s possible.”
The case continues Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. with more witnesses for the prosecution.