FBI Agent, Taped Conversation Presented As Prosecution Winds Down Police Shooting Case
Federal Bureau of Investigation Agent William Bezak, who was in charge of investigating the shootings of six victims on the Danziger Bridge, took the stand for the prosecution on Monday in the federal trial of six current and former NOPD officers.
The officers are accused of violating the civil rights of people on the bridge, two of whom died and four who were seriously wounded, and covering up their actions following the shooting on Sept. 4, 2005.
In court Bezak said he knew police officers he interviewed about the case lied to him, and he specifically mentioned defendant Arthur Kaufman. Kaufman was the lead NOPD investigator of the incident.
Bezak said he was suspicious of the gun found on the scene, especially because it was found a day later. In the trial thus far, prosecutors have shown evidence and talked to witnesses who assert that Kaufman planted a gun on the bridge.
Bezak also testified said Kaufman’s story about a witness to the shooting who allegedly saw Ronald Madison reach into his pocket and turn toward police did not seem correct.
Bezak said Kaufman gave the FBI the name of a witness ‘Lakeisha Smith’. Bezak testified he searched all of the FBI’s databases and has never been able to find Smith.
The jury also listened to a series of secretly-recorded conversations from 2009 between former Lt. Jeffrey Lehrman, who turned state’s evidence, and Sgt. Robert Gisevius. Bezak prepped Lehrman for the conversation.
On the recording, Gisevius sounded concerned that someone was giving information to investigators that could bring down the original seven officers arrested in the case.
On the tape that was loaded with obscenities, Gisevius said, “who the f**k do you think the leak is? I think it’s homicide. It was all f****d up time.”
Lehrmann suggested it could be Kaufman.
Gisevius answered, “But he would not sink his own ship.”
New Orleans defense attorney Robert Jenkins, who is following the case closely, said even as the prosecution’s case reaches an end, Monday’s testimony still made an impression on jurors.
“It was a strong day in terms of them summarizing their case and chiefly what happnened,” Jenkins said. “And when you play those videos—I mean the actual video of what happened–along with the testimony, the government has put on a very powerful case.”
There are two more prosecution witnesses listed for Tuesday.