Wednesday, January 3, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Cheers greet cops charged in deaths

The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — Seven policemen charged in a deadly shooting during the chaos after Hurricane Katrina turned themselves in Tuesday at the city jail, where more than 200 supporters greeted them in a show of solidarity.

Each of the indicted men faces at least one charge of murder or attempted murder in the Sept. 4, 2005, shootings on the Danziger Bridge, less than a week after the hurricane hit New Orleans. Two people died and four people were wounded.

Defense attorneys say the officers are innocent.

Sgts. Kenneth Bowen and Robert Gisevius, officer Anthony Villavaso and former officer Robert Faulcon were charged with first-degree murder. Officers Robert Barrios and Mike Hunter were charged with attempted first-degree murder, and Ignatius Hills was charged with attempted second-degree murder.

A first-degree murder conviction carries a possible death sentence. A spokesman for District Attorney Eddie Jordan said Monday that prosecutors haven't decided yet whether to seek the death penalty in the case.

Those accused of first-degree murder will get no bail, and bail will be $100,000 per count for the other three, a judge said.

The officers are scheduled to be arraigned Friday.

Police say that the officers were responding to a report of other officers down, and that they thought one of the men, Ronald Madison, was reaching for a gun. Madison, a 40-year-old mentally retarded man, and James Brissette, 19, were killed on the bridge. The coroner said Madison was shot seven times, with five wounds in the back.

Madison's brother Lance, who was also on the bridge and was cleared of attempted-murder charges, said he and his brother were not armed.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company


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