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NEW ORLEANS - Four New Orleans police officers have been charged with federal civil rights violations in the deadly shootings of unarmed people on a bridge in the chaos after Hurricane Katrina, officials said.
The indictment unsealed Tuesday charges Sgts. Robert Gisevius and Kenneth Bowen and officers Anthony Villavaso and Robert Faulcon with deprivation of rights under color of law and use of a weapon during the commission of a crime. They could face the death penalty if convicted.
Sgts. Arthur Kaufman and Gerard Dugue were charged with joining them in a cover-up. Charges against them include making false statements.
Five former New Orleans police officers already have pleaded guilty to helping cover up the shootings on the Danziger Bridge that left two men dead and four wounded just days after the August 2005 hurricane.
Those officers said in statements that they saw numerous civilians lying bloody and wounded on the bridge, but did not see any guns on or near them.
Their pleas appeared to be laying the foundation for more serious charges against those accused of actually doing the shooting and engineering the cover-up.
"Put simply, we will not tolerate wrongdoing by those who are sworn to protect the public," Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday.
Attorneys for Bowen, Villavaso and Faulcon did not immediately return phone calls for comment. An attorney for Gisevius declined comment until after he had a chance to read the indictment.