Former New Orleans Cops Sentenced for Bridge Shootings

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) -- A federal judge in New Orleans handed down long sentences on Wednesday to five former cops who were found guilty last year of obstruction of justice charges in the shootings of six people on the Danzinger Bridge following Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Gulf Coast in late August 2005.

Four of the ex-New Orleans cops, Sgts. Kenneth Bowen and Robert Gisevius and officers Robert Faulcon and Anthony Villavaso, received terms of 38 to 65 years from U.S. District Court Judge Kurt Englehardt.

Former Sgt. Arthur Kauffman was given six years behind bars for taking part in the ensuing cover-up.

After responding to a radio call that fellow officers were under fire, prosecutors said Bowen, Gisevius, Faulcon and Villavaso fired on an unarmed family on the bridge, killing James Brissette, and wounding four others.

Two brothers were also shot at, with Ronald Madison hit in the back and then kicked and stomped on before he died.  His sibling, Lance Madison, was first charged with attempting to kill police officers and was then released three weeks afterwards when it was determined that he was falsely charged.

The incident prompted the Justice Department to launch a probe of the New Orleans Police Department, leading to its finding that officers "show a lack of respect for the civil rights and dignity" of the people they serve.

While the officers will likely appeal their sentence, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the convictions brought "significant closure."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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