NEW ORLEANS -- The now much publicized shooting atop the Danziger Bridge, just days after Hurricane Katrina, is about to see its first guilty plea. And it is expected to come from a former New Orleans Police Department investigator -- who was not at the scene during the shooting.
Since the storm, it's been a tale of two stories -- with the NOPD boasting one version and family members of the deceased sharing another. But now that's all about to change. The federal government's civil rights investigation into who fired first, or at all, is about to take a giant step forward.
On Wednesday, former NOPD Lieutenant Michael Lohman is expected to plead guilty inside federal court in downtown New Orleans in connection with the September 4, 2005 shootings.
It is not clear what specific charges he will plead guilty to because the case has not yet been unsealed. Lohman was not one of the officers on the scene, but was instead responsible for supervising the police department's own investigation into what actually happened that day. The 21-year veteran of the force abruptly retired earlier this month.
The protests and outrage that followed the shootings have long followed the seven officers who were there on the bridge. Now known as the 'Danziger 7,' the officers were indicted on murder and attempted murder charges, but a judge dismissed those charges in 2008, blaming prosecutor errors that tainted the case.
Federal agents have since picked it back up, but so far only two men are known to have received target letters, indicating they are now at the center of a federal grand jury probe.
Sergeant Arthur Kaufman is one of them, but he was not on the Danziger Bridge that September day. Instead he helped lead the NOPD's investigation into the shootings. His target letter is a sign the feds have expanded their investigation beyond the alleged civil rights violations of the responding officers and into a possible cover up.
Sergeant Robert Gisevius is the second officer to receive formal notice from the feds, and he did, in fact, fire shots on the Danziger Bridge.
His attorney, Eric Hessler, faults the city and the New Orleans police department for not providing adequate leadership for officers following the storm.
'It was certainly substandard police work, but it was done under conditions where you couldn't expect much more,' said Hessler. 'The bare basic elements of police work wasn't provided to them by the city of New Orleans and they're paying for it now.'
In September 2009 state police temporarily closed down the Danziger Bridge in order for FBI agents to recover more evidence. For hours, FBI agents scoured the area as part of their ongoing investigation into what did or didn't happen the day six people were shot just six days after Hurricane Katrina.
Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old man with mental retardation, was one of two people killed on the Danziger Bridge; four others were wounded, including a woman who lost her right arm.
Family members say the victims had no weapons and were brutally gunned down by police. The NOPD, however, maintains their cops were responding to an emergency call of two officers under fire and when they arrived on the bridge, they say the officers were met with additional gunfire, making them the victims.