Danziger trial: Defense Challenges FBI Agent’s Testimony Of Fake Witnesses
In extensive cross examination of the lead FBI investigator on the Danziger Bridge police shooting case on Tuesday, defense attorneys tried to counter testimony and secret recordings that the jury heard a day before.
Agent William Bezak, testified for the prosecution on Monday in the federal trial of six current and former NOPD officers who the government says violated the civil rights of people on the bridge in the days followingHurricane Katrina and covered up their actions. Two people were shot to death, and four others were seriously wounded on Sept. 4, 2005.
Eric Hessler, attorney for Sgt. Robert Gisevius, whose voice was on a secretly-recorded tape played in court on Monday, said the government did not go far enough in investigating the case. Had they investigated further, the feds would have considered there were other shooters underneath and beside the bridge, Hessler said in court.
According to Hessler, the impact points on where the bullets shattered the concrete could have been fired from a grassy area or from the side of the bridge, and the victims could have been caught in the crossfire.
Bezak countered that FBI experts concluded the shots that hit the bridge’s barriers and concrete came from the south or southeast, or from behind the victims
“I have no reason to believe the bullets came from the grassy area,” Bezak testified.
Next up to cross examine Bezak was Stephen London, attorney for Sgt. Arthur Kaufman. Kaufman is accused of falsifying police reports to protect the officers.
Bezak testified Monday that Kaufman gave him fake witness names, including a witness named “Lakeisha Smith”.
Bezak testifiesd he checked the FBI database for anyone named Lakeisha Smith who could have been in the New Orleans area near the time of Hurricane Katrina.
London asked, “You looked for Lakeisha Smith?”
“Yes sir,” Bezak answered. “Of all of the Lakeisha Smiths in the age range likely in the New Orleans area at that time, about 10 or 11.”
According to the indictment, Kaufman made up the witness.
London indicated that Lakeisha Smith does exist, and he told Bezak that she lived just a block or two from the Family Inn, which sits at the foot of the Danziger Bridge.
The courtroom will be closed on Wednesday, but Bezak will be back on the stand for more defense cross examination on Thursday morning.