Mistrial declared in Danziger cover-up case

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wwltv.com

Posted on January 27, 2012 at 11:56 AM

Updated Friday, Jan 27 at 8:02 PM

NEW ORLEANS - A mistrial has been declared in the case of an ex-NOPD officer accused of a cover-up in the aftermath of the deadly shooting of civilians at the Danziger Bridge in the days after Katrina.

Judge Kurt Englehardt declared the mistrial after prosecutors brought up the case of police misconduct involving Raymond Robair, a case that Englehardt had advised them not to bring up during the trial.

After a reference was made to Robair case - a case where police were convicted of a beating death and the cover-up thereafter of a man in July 2005 - Englehardt heard arguments from both sides on a mistrial before lecturing that, "The government doesn't run my court room, you don't get to decide what is admissible."

Prior to the mistrial, Gerard Dugue had testified in his own defense for the majority of the day. He talked about the days after Katrina and described them as hectic while stifling tears as he described his assignment in the Superdome where people were looking to the NOPD for help with life necessities like food and bathroom facilities, and officers had no help to give.

"It was horrible," he said, visibly shaken. "It was bad."

Dugue said he was given the assignment to work with Officer Kaufman in the investigation in October of 2005, but said he was told to do it after he was done doing his regular assignment.

Dugue said the report was not ready and didn't include key ballistic information because the NOPD's crime lab had gone underwater, making the return of results slow in coming.

He testified that he wasn't ready with the report but was pressured by his superiors to turn in what he had.

He was also asked about a 'secret meeting' held at the Seventh District during which some officers involved in the shootings and some who helped plan the cover up discussed a strategy. Dugue said he knew nothing of the meeting. He said he was at the Seventh District that day, but was unaware of a meeting, though he said one could have occurred.

Dugue went into detail about attempts to interview witnesses, including some that were apparently fictional. He talked at great length about what he said was a parallel investigation by the DA's office and how it didn't share the information with him.

"They worked this investigation by withholding information from the NOPD," said Dugue under questioning by prosecutors. "I reached out to them for assistance and they had their own agenda."

Under cross examination after lunch, Dugue was extensively questioned about inconsistencies in his testimony and reports. After more than two hours of questioning, Englehardt asked the prosecution to speed things up so that Dugue's testimony would be over by day's end.

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