Prosecution's final witness reveals profanity-laced recorded conversation

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 18, 2011 at 5:25 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 18 at 5:50 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS - The prosecution’s last witness in the Danziger trial is trying to button up the case for the government.

The FBI’s lead agent spent Monday on the stand telling the jury that the early investigation into the police shooting by the NOPD didn’t add up.

The FBI agent on the stand is what they called a summary witness – the witness chosen by the government to summarize the case for the jury.

Prosecutors hope he helped connect the dots before the defense presents its case.

FBI case agent William Bezak’s has come up numerous times during the past four weeks of testimony.

Monday the lead investigator in the Danziger police shooting case finally took the stand as prosecutors were wrapping up their case.

 "His testimony this morning was efficient and productive. This afternoon was really sloppy and choppy. The judge even at one point admonished the attorneys to try and get it together," said former prosecutor and Eyewitness News legal analyst Chick Foret.

Agent Bezak told the jury he interviewed about 75 NOPD officers before they stopped talking to him.

Investigators allege that four of the officers now on trial shot unarmed civilians on the Danziger Bridge, two of them fatally on September 4, 2005 and a fifth officer is accused covering up the shooting.

On Monday, Agent Bezak testified that he learned early on in the investigation that “there were things that didn’t sound right, didn’t add up.”

He listed some of his major concerns, such as defendant Archie Kaufman being the lead NOPD investigator even though he witnessed the shooting, a gun he supposedly discovered under the bridge, and two key witnesses listed in his report, Kesha Smith and James Youngman, were nowhere to be found.

Bezak also took the jury through portions of a three-hour taped conversation between former officer turned government witness Jeff Lehrmann and defendant Robert Gisevius.

Lehrmann wore a wire to record the conversation at a Warehouse District bar.

During the profanity-laced conversation, Gisevius made an anti-Semitic remark about lead prosecutor Bobbi Bernstein, implicates defendant Archie Kaufman for “going around scratching out words in the report,” and he said he didn’t believe any of the seven officers involved in the shooting would talk to federal investigators.

"It wasn’t terribly informative. It certainly didn’t produce any smoking gun as to Gisevius acknowledging his guilt in any of the counts in the indictment, at least in my opinion, but it did paint an accurate picture of Gisevius in his own words," Foret said.

Bezak also showed the jury a digitally enhanced video of Robert Gisevius and defendant Ken Bowen firing their guns on the Danziger Bridge.

Before testimony began Monday the judge dismissed one member of the jury. It turned out she is a distant relative of a wife of one of the defendants.

 

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