Thursday, November 1, 2007

No Charges Filed In Standoff On Bridge

This revelation come as no surprise. Where is the public outrage?

An Orleans Parish grand jury refused to indict a Gretna police officer Wednesday for firing a shotgun into the air as evacuees fleeing the post-Katrina chaos tried to cross the Crescent City Connection. The decision essentially closes the criminal case in New Orleans.

Officer Lawrence Vaughn, who could have faced a charge of illegal use of a firearm, was cleared of wrongdoing in the Sept. 1, 2005, incident spawned when authorities from Gretna, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office and the Crescent City Connection decided to shut down the bridge to pedestrians.

Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson said the decision also exonerates his department, which has been lambasted as racist for its part in the decision to shut down the bridge and keep desperate New Orleanians, most of them black, from leaving the city. Lawson and others have said police were forced to block the bridge to evacuees because no help was available on the West Bank. In addition, authorities were battling a fire at Oakwood Center mall in Terrytown, set by looters earlier on the day Vaughn fired the shotgun.

No comments: