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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Shoot to Kill

Aired August 15, 2010 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Don Lemon. Live at the CNN World headquarters in Atlanta. Time now for your headlines.

Police in Buffalo, New York have charged 25-year-old Keith Johnson with four counts of murder after an early morning shooting left four people dead. Another four people were wounded in the early hours Saturday morning outside a downtown Buffalo restaurant.

Details are murky, but it's believed that a fight broke out inside the restaurant immediately before the shooting. Among the dead, two are men and two are women. One of the victims was a man celebrating his wedding anniversary.

China has called for a national day of mourning tomorrow in memory of flooding and mud slide victims. The mud slides have killed more than a thousand people and that number is expected to rise. Ten thousand people have been evacuated in one province and several thousand more are still stranded. China has been drenched by heavy rains and floods since the end of May.

I'm Don Lemon. Those are your headlines this hour. The CNN Special, SHOOT TO KILL begins right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Monday morning, August 29, 2005.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're looking around and you're saying to yourself, is this the end of the world?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got to stay calm. You've got to stay down.

AFRICA BRUMFIELD, DANNY BRUMFIELD'S NIECE: There was no law. There was no order.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The police officers decided to shoot first and ask questions later.

LANCE MADISON, RONALD MADISON'S BROTHER: Because I realized they were shooting at us, and I was running zigzag, you know, trying to dodge the bullets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know we have guys out here, you know, shooting at the police.

OFFICER THOMAS REDMANN, FIFTH DISTRICT, NOPD: Being the police doesn't give you any magic super powers. A lot of the bad guys have guns just like ours.

OFFICER RICCI FAYARD, FIRST DISTRICT, NOPD: Everybody knows the worst case scenario, but I knew this one was ours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands behind your back!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN HOST (on camera): When hurricane Katrina left New Orleans awash, its police were caught adrift, brotherless and at times, lawless. Unexpected acts of heroism were offset by inexplicable acts of shame.

In one week, four men were killed in confrontations with police. Each one of them shot in the back. Two of them on the bridge behind me. Even after CNN sued to obtain autopsy records, which officials tried to keep secret, what federal prosecutors now call a cover up persisted for almost five years.

Today, four police officers have been charged with murders. Others have admitted, their role in a conspiracy to obstruct justice. This is the story of the New Orleans Police Department in the seven days after Katrina. What one officer would call the good, the bad and the ugly.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be advised. I've got 10 people we need to - yes, we need transported to the Superdome.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): When New Orleans awoke that Monday morning after Katrina, it was only the beginning. Over the next week, a city would become a lake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get us up on out of here!

GRIFFIN: Its citizens trapped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold your breath!

GRIFFIN: Its criminals plunging the city into anarchy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Armageddon. That's what it's like. It's like Armageddon.

GRIFFIN: And a police department with a dark past would break into pieces. And, by the end, among New Orleans' dead, Danny Brumfield, a 45-year-old grandfather, who his family says was just looking for help when he was killed by police.

A. BRUMFIELD: You could hear people saying, "Oh my God." You could hear people saying, "I can't believe the police just did that." It was outrage.

GRIFFIN: Also among the dead, Ronald Madison, a mentally retarded man shot in the back. He died at the foot of this bridge. GRIFFIN (on camera): They killed your brother.

MADISON: Yes.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Two men dead - Ronald Madison and Danny Brumfield, killed not by Katrina, but by the New Orleans cops they thought were there to protect them.

GRIFFIN (on camera): How did it get to that point? With a command staff in tatters, every officer had to make individual decisions - stay and fight, or flee, arrest criminals, or join them, become heroes, or cowards, or possibly even killers.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Some officers crossed the line. Others stepped up and did their jobs.

CAPTAIN JAMES SCOTT, FIRST DISTRICT, NOPD: Once the storm reached about 50 miles an hour, we actually locked the station up and put chains around the station.

GRIFFIN: The NOPD's First District officers rode out Hurricane Katrina in this Canal Street hotel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When (INAUDIBLE).

Lieutenant Sandra Simpson captured the chaos with her video camera.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, man!

LIEUTENANT SANDRA SIMPSON, NOPD: We gathered in the hallways of hotel with some of our flashlights and we still had some radio communication.

SCOTT: That's when I heard one of the officers on the radio.

GRIFFIN: An officer who was trapped in his attic.

SCOTT: The attic was filling up with water all the way to the attic vent, and he was getting more panicky. There'd be silence, deafening silence. So, at some point, I said, do you have your gun? I said, shoot all of your bullets and shoot the vent loose.

SIMPSON: And he was able to kick it out, and he did get up on the roof of his house. He came out in the air and he managed to escape.

SCOTT: As soon as he gets out the attic he says something like, "Can I do anything for anybody?" So here's -- you can see the unselfishness of this policeman.

DEBORAH BRUMFELD, HUSBAND SHOT IN NEW ORLEANS: The rain and everything was over with. We didn't get any water. Then all of a sudden, we heard a loud boom, and the water was coming up from the floor.

GRIFFIN: Deborah and Danny Brumfield were high school sweethearts who had managed to make it out of the projects to buy their own home in the Lower Ninth Ward. Now, they were trapped there, with Deborah's diabetic mother.

D. BRUMFIELD: The water got several feet high inside the house.

He asked me to go up into the attic. He asked my mama to climb and said she couldn't climb the ladder. A 300-some pound woman, she wasn't able to climb the ladder (ph). He said, mom, I'm not going to let you drown.

GRIFFIN: Danny sawed a hole in the ceiling big enough for his mother- in-law to fit through and then tied a sheet to her legs. As Deborah pulled, Danny pushed, until the three of them were safely in the attic.

D. BRUMFIELD: He was saying, well, we will ride it out here until the storm is over.

MADISON: I was afraid for my little brother, he was hysterical.

GRIFFIN: About the same time in New Orleans East, Lance Madison was trying to wait out the storm. A career manager for Federal Express, Madison had stayed behind to take care of his younger brother, Ronald, who was mentally retarded and afraid to leave the house. Out of 10 siblings, Lance was the closest to Ronald.

MADISON: A lot of people couldn't understand his words. But, by me being around him, I understood just about everything.

GRIFFIN: Suddenly, 10 feet of water poured into the house.

MADISON: My brother was just real scared. Then I just tried to, you know, calm him down.

GRIFFIN: Lance and Ronald spent three days in their attic.

MADISON: When the water got down about six feet, we decided to leave because we ran out of food, no water and we was getting real dehydrated. They had helicopters flying around but they never came down to rescue us.

GRIFFIN: But the city's eight police districts were also in trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now it's coming right up the steps.

GRIFFIN: Isolated and struggling to survive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE). We're trying to be strong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are. We are strong.

GRIFFIN: On the far eastern edge of the city where the Madisons lived, Seventh District commander Bob Bardy's men were trapped inside Methodist Hospital.

CAPTAIN ROBERT BARDY, SEVENTH DISTRICT, NOPD: Our officers actually witnessed people dying right in front of them. They were challenged with the fact of, because of contamination, what would they do with some of these bodies?

It wears on you, and I - I'll say that. It - it would wear on - on anybody.

GRIFFIN: Police officers were beginning to realize they were on their own.

SIMPSON: We should have boats. We should have life jackets. We should have motors. We should have fuel. And we didn't. We didn't have anything.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Two days after Katrina and across New Orleans, police stations, police cars, and even the city's jail were under water.

REDMANN: We didn't know where the command structure of the police department even was physically located, let alone how to communicate with it. It was just roving bands of cops. A lot of us with our own equipment. We just had to - to wing it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just here, I was back in the neighborhoods people were looting.

REDMANN: Tuesday morning there were just hundreds of people walking down Canal Street in broad daylight, tearing the security gates off in front of the stores, smashing out windows. They were just stealing the city blind.

GRIFFIN: On day two, flood waters gave way to a flood of criminals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you taking these clothes?

REDMANN: Basically all we could do is scatter them, run them out of the store and as you'd run them out of one, they'd be running into the next. It was way more than - than we could handle and they knew it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You, go back!

OFFICER PATRICK MANGUS, FIRST DISTRICT, NOPD: I wanted to jump out of that truck and go do something. But if we arrested them I would have been stuck with some guy in handcuffs walking around with me for the next week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ain't NOPD, the police, we got our shoes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got our shoes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got us some new shoes. That's why we got new ones. GRIFFIN: The normal rules had disintegrated. The cops not only couldn't arrest the looters, they had to break into stores themselves to survive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't say you're welcome to it, but you've got to do what you've got to do to survive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, now we know what it is to be a looter.

FAYARD: Somebody could look at us commandeering and stuff and saying, you shouldn't have done that. But had we not done it, we couldn't perform the way we did as far as helping other people.

GRIFFIN: But witnesses say some cops crossed the line. Osman Kahn, the owner of Amerihost Hotel, couldn't believe what he saw.

OSMAN KAHN, OWNER, AMERIHOST HOTEL: I would see a looter and all of sudden a police officer would surround the looter and take the stuff and keep it for themselves.

GRIFFIN: Tuesday night after the storm, Kahn had opened his doors to the NOPD. Most, he says, were honest and hard working. But on the 10th floor, there was a problem, a band of rogue cops.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They probably would leave probably about 9:00, 10:00 at night and come back around 4:30 in the morning.

GRIFFIN (on camera): And what did you see them come back with?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, everything from Adidas shoes to Rolex watches.

MARY HOWELL, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: The problems with the New Orleans Police Department have been chronic, and long-lasting, unfortunately.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): In the mid-'90s, 10 to 15 percent of the NOPD was engaged in serious felony misconduct.

HOWELL: There was about a two- to three-year period, you could take almost every major felony, state and federal, on the books, and we had a police officer who was arrested, charged or convicted with those.

People were more afraid of the cops than they were of the criminals. And, frankly, there was often very little distinction between the two of them.

GRIFFIN: Those officers who tried to do the right thing felt betrayed by those who allegedly helped themselves.

SIMPSON: They don't deserve to wear this badge. If police officers were looting in the true sense of the word, then they should be fired from this job.

GRIFFIN: It wouldn't be the only test some police failed. At the height of the storm, when many officers stayed to protect their city, others simply fled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the cowards that fled this city, can you truly wear the badge like our motto says?

GRIFFIN: And would some who wore that badge take anarchy as a license to kill? By the end, Lance Madison's brother, Ronald, would be among the dead.

MADISON: They act like they were hunting for animals.

GRIFFIN: And so would Danny Brumfield.

D. BRUMFIELD: Danny was my friend, my husband. We were supposed to grow old together.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here comes the rescue. He's being lifted into the Blackhawk helicopter.

FAYARD: The water was murky. It was full of debris. And it stunk. You could smell that there were decaying bodies. A situation like this, it does bring out the best and the worst, sometimes in the same person.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never thought I'd see the city this dark.

FAYARD: I had moments myself where I wondered why I was here. You know, why should I stay here and keep trying to work under these conditions? You know, and, it was, like, why am I doing this?

GRIFFIN (voice-over): In the First District, Ricci Fayard was living in a venereal disease clinic next door to the police station. His only change of clothes had been infested with ants.

UNIDENTFIED FEMALE: What's your name? What are you calling yourself?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The river rats.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The river rats.

GRIFFIN: Dirty and tired he volunteered to organize search and rescue missions.

FAYARD: We actually saved 27, which isn't a whole lot. These are the guys that came later. They - they saved tons of people. But initially we didn't have the wherewithal to save that many, so we saved what we could.

Me and my wife handmade these. I gave one to each of the boat crew to - to show that, you know, God was leading us to do this.

OFFICER/REVEREND GERVAIS ALLISON: Even as he speaks, He's declaring that trouble has risen in here (ph) like I said.

Many of the officers were suggesting they wanted some type of worship service.

And he says if there's a way of escape, if I had wings, I'd fly away.

GRIFFIN: And fly away is exactly what some New Orleans police did. Some would have legitimate excuses. But by day three, with the city ripped to shreds, 400 to 500 officers were missing in action, a third of the force.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, anybody here?

FAYARD: We're here to protect and serve. If we leave while there's still people out there that need help, then what's the sense?

GRIFFIN: While the First District River Rats were rescuing people, one of their own, Lieutenant Henri Waller, was about to desert them and even tried to convince younger officers to come with him.

LT. HENRI WALLER, FIRST DISTRICT, NOPD: I said look, guys, I'm going to be perfectly honest with you. We haven't heard hide nor hair from any of the command staff. I think we've been forgotten about. And I said, look the handwriting is on the wall.

SCOTT: Things are really scary, especially for younger officers and then they see a ranking officer that's leaving and suggesting that they leave with him and saying that they're going to die, it just undermines you - everything that you're trying to do.

H. WALLER: And I said flat out, I said, you know what, I am scared. Everybody here is scared. And the bottom line is I'm not going to tell these guys everything is going to be OK, when it's not going to be OK.

GRIFFIN: Lieutenant Waller drove his police cruiser home to Baton Rouge where he decided to stay. He says because his wife needed him. She feared family members had been killed in the storm.

H. WALLER: I'm sure people in the First District by now are probably thinking, you know, that I'm a deserter, a coward, what have you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the cowards that are here on the New Orleans Police Department that fled the city in a time of need, when you raised your right hand you were sworn to protect these citizens. Can you truly wear the badge like our motto say? Evidently you can't.

GRIFFIN: In the end, Lieutenant Henri Waller, along with 86 other cops, were fired for abandoning their posts.

H. WALLER: I don't love you as much as I love my wife and son. If that hurts, then that hurts, and so be it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My family, everybody's family was affected by this. Not only theirs. They're not the only ones. That's all I have to say.

GRIFFIN: Danny and Deborah Brumfield, the couple who were stranded in their attic along with Deborah's mother, were finally being rescued. Wildlife and Fisheries officers dropped them off on a highway overpass and told them buses would soon pick them up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, can somebody get us out of here (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need some help!

D. BRUMFIELD: We waited. No buses. We had to sleep on the hard concrete for two nights.

GRIFFIN: Deborah's mother, a diabetic, was suffering. Her husband, Danny, tried to get help from passing police officers.

D. BRUMFIELD: He was trying to stop cars, asking them when are we going to get help. They were just passing us up. Nobody wanted to stop.

GRIFFIN: The Madisons were also stranded. Lance and his mentally retarded brother, Ronald, had stayed home to ride out the storm. But now the flood forced them out of their house and across this bridge, the Danziger Bridge, in search of shelter. Instead, they had stumbled into a no man's land full of armed looters.

MADISON: Everything was just so out of control.

GRIFFIN (on camera): It was dangerous?

MADISON: Yes.

GRIFFIN: Looting?

MADISON: Looting, fights, everything was going on at that time.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Just down the street, Captain Bardy's said his Seventh District cops were under fire.

BARDY: We were bringing people to save their lives off of boats here. They're being shot at. Then why would you shoot at survivors?

GRIFFIN: By day four, the NOPD's mission would change. From rescuing its citizens, to taking back the streets. For Danny Brumfield and Ronald Madison, it would be fatal.

MADISON: I had no idea that they would be shooting at us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DREW GRIFFIN, ANCHOR (voice-over): On day four of the storm, the police and National Guard decided to shift their focus. From rescuing people -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You all been doing some looting?

GRIFFIN: -- to catching the bad guys. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco gave the National Guard orders -- if they faced violent offenders, shoot to kill. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have M-16's and they're locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill, and I expect they will.

GRIFFIN: Thursday, September 1st, became the day when the police fought back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police. Stop that vehicle!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On your face, on your face!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands behind your back, man.

OFFICER PATRICK MANGUS, FIRST DISTRICT, NOPD: At one point, I was carrying an M-16 and we were given permission, if there was hostile act towards us, you know, don't think twice about if you had to shoot or something.

LIEUTENANT SANDRA SIMPSON, FIRST DISTRICT, NOPD: We could hear gunshots all around us, basically. Most of the firing was coming from the project area, which would be to the north of our station.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 606, that's a 10-4.

GRIFFIN: The first district station under fire was now calling itself fort apache.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Law-abiding citizens were leaving. Now you're getting kind of like the mad max syndrome, I guess. They're arming themselves and kind of doing what they want to do. We can't allow them to get to the station.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if anything happens, just get low.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We actually had defensive positions on our station.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They challenge, you all should be on target.

CAPTAIN JAMES SCOTT, FIRST DISTRICT, NOPD: In a civilized society, that's pretty bizarre, that you have defensive positions on a police station.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to make 9/11 look like nothing. I think just the number of people dead is going to be worse. And we're not going to --

MANGUS: The guy said, "NOPD die." That's when we realized that there was like some people out there that maybe didn't want to be rescued and were just out there looking at maybe taking us out.

GRIFFIN: By the morning of day five, federal troops were guarding the First District. But while the NOPD began taking back the streets, downtown it seemed like the convention center had been ceded to the criminals. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are raping there. They are killing people there. They're shooting police there.

GRIFFIN: Danny Brumfield was now on his way to the convention center. He was alone. His wife and mother-in-law had been evacuated. When he arrived at the center, he found his daughter and his five grandchildren already there.

SHANTAN BRUMFIELD, DANNY BRUMFIELDS'S DAUGHTER: A truck passed by and I saw my daddy get off of it. And he said, "where the children? Where the kids?" He hugged my oldest son. He grabbed my baby and he wouldn't let him go.

GRIFFIN: The Brumfield family had survived the hurricane and the flood. What not all of them would survive is this -- huddled in the crowd, outside the convention center.

AFRICA BRUMFIELD, DANNY BRUMFIELD'S NIECE: For those few people who chose to break the law, they made it into the hell that it was.

We were listening to a lot of women yell for help. There were rumors of rapes taking place and from the way the women were screaming, it sounded like those rumors were true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Help, get him off of me, get him out of me."

SHANTAN BRUMFIELD: My daddy made it safe for everybody. We were sleeping in shifts. He didn't sleep at all.

AFRICA BRUMFIELD: There was so much going on at the convention center. That I gave him shears. We had used the shears earlier that day to cut up boxes or anything to lay the children on because the children had been sleeping on the concrete.

GRIFFIN: His family says Brumfield was looking for help from the police.

AFRICA BRUMFIELD: He saw a police car coming towards us on Convention Center Boulevard and he made an attempt to flag down the police car.

GRIFFIN (on camera): According to a police report, a black man came out of the convention center. He had something shiny in his right hand and was waiving as police says they approached in the patrol car.

When they came up, the man actually jumped on the windshield and was trying to swing what turned out to be a pair of scissors in his right hand at the officer in this seat. That officer pulled out a shotgun and shot Danny Brumfield, killing him.

SHANTA BRUMFIELD: I was asleep with the kids. When I woke up, I saw him on a car. All I heard was the gunshot and I didn't have any movement. I couldn't move. It was like I couldn't even breathe and my oldest son was asking, "what's that? What was that? What was that?" I said, "They shot him."

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The Brumfield say the police car ran into Danny.

SHANTA BRUMFIELD: He was standing in the street and the car was coming fast. They hit him and that's how he ended up on the hood.

GRIFFIN: The police report said the officer feared for his life and fired one shotgun round at Brumfield.

SHANTA BRUMFIELD: They say that Office Ronald Mitchell shut him in self-defense because my dad was trying to stab him with some scissors. It brought me to tears because I knew it wasn't true. My dad wouldn't try to kill anybody for no reasons.

GRIFFIN: Two years later, the self-defense story began to unravel after CNN sued to obtain this autopsy report. It says Danny Brumfield died from, quote, "a single gunshot wound to the left back." A blast, which traveled, again, quoting, "from back-to-front." In other words, shot straight through the back. We asked then District Attorney Eddie Jordan about this.

(on camera): It doesn't seem to match, no matter how we could figure it out. A man laying on the hood of the car, swinging with either hand and then being shot in the back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I suspect he was moving around as the car continued forward and he was shot in connection with the movement of the vehicle and his movement as he tried to get into the right hand side of the vehicle.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Jordan closed out the investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was a justifiable homicide.

GRIFFIN: The morning after Danny Brumfield was shot and killed by police, his daughter, Shantan heard busses had finally arrived to take them from the hell of the convention center.

The daughter wrote down Danny's name and her mom's phone number on a piece of paper and taped it to his chest. They had to leave the body behind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were supposed to leave together.

GRIFFIN: Armed with the autopsy report, the Brumfield family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city. In 2008, the city settled by paying out almost $500,000.

Danny Brumfield would not be the only one claimed by the fear and anarchy in the wake of Katrina. Sunday, day seven was about to dawn in New Orleans. It would be the last day of Ronald Madison's life.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: It was the beginning of a very bloody weekend in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Seventh District Patrolman Lawrence Celestine had rescued stranded citizens, helped care for patients at a hospital, and even carried away the dead.

Now, Celestine stood on the balcony of a nursing home, a gun in each hand, and took his own life.

CAPTAIN ROBERT BARDY, SEVENTH DISTRICT, NOPD: I think that every person in this world probably has a breaking point and I think that he reached his.

GRIFFIN: Two days after one of their own committed suicide, officers in the Seventh District said they heard a frightening radio call. Fellow officers in trouble, under the Danzinger Bridge as police told it --

BARDY: Cops were being shot at. Things were just chaotic. It was like marshal law out here.

GRIFFIN: As Bardy's men rushed to the scene, Lance Madison and his brother Ronald were crossing the Danzinger bridge, looking for rescue from the flood.

A budget rental truck pulled up filled with men carrying handguns, shotguns, assault rifles. They were the Seventh District officers, but they were not in police uniforms.

Madison says he couldn't tell they were cops and now they were coming after him.

(on camera): Who did you think these guys in the trucks were?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had no idea, had no idea at all. I just kept running as fast as I could. Just to survive where I wouldn't get killed.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Captain Bardy told us his officers were shooting in self-defense.

BARDY: This was a full-fledged firefight. I mean, they were taking fire. They were returning fire.

GRIFFIN: But Lance Madison says that police officers were the only ones shooting, as he and his brother ran for safety. At the top of the bridge, he noticed blood coming from his brother's shoulder. Ronald couldn't go on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He told me to tell my brothers and sister that he loved them and that tell my mother he loved her. And he shook my hand at the top of the bridge. And I just picked him up and I ran all the way down. I told him, I said, "everything will be all right."

GRIFFIN: Lance, a former football player, carried Ronald to this motel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told him, "be quiet, be calm because I don't want you to be bleeding, I want to try to keep him calm."

GRIFFIN: Lance ran through the motel's courtyard looking for help. Then he says, the shooting started again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really didn't know who was in the truck and whoever was in there. They just came up and tried shooting both of us.

GRIFFIN: He ran until he found help, or so he thought.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I saw the National Guards and the state patrolmen, I felt relieved then I could finally get some help.

GRIFFIN: Instead, they cuffed him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tried to explain to them what was going on. My little brother was shot. He needs some medical attention.

GRIFFIN: Under arrest, Lance was taken back to the motel where his brother Ronald lay lifeless on the ground. That's when he realized the men who had been shooting at him and his brother were actually NOPD.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They kept cursing me. They were saying shut up, we don't want to hear it. You were shooting at us. I said I was not shooting, you all have the wrong guy.

GRIFFIN: From the beginning, there were problems with the NOPD story. Police testified an officer saw Lance threw a gun into the canal, but police made no attempt to find it. Five weeks later, a gun was put into evidence that police said belonged to Lance Madison.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a story they made up or alibis to cover themselves. I didn't have no weapon at all. My little brother didn't have a weapon. We were just trying to get rescued.

GRIFFIN: The official report said their officer shot Ronald Madison in self-defense after he, quote, "reached into his waist and turned toward the officer who fired one shot, fatally wounding him."

CNN went to court to obtain the autopsy report after officials refused to make it public. The report told a much different story. Ronald Madison's body had seven gunshot wounds, two in the shoulder, five in the back. No shot entered Ronald's body from the front.

CNN found an eyewitness at the motel whom the police had ignored.

(on camera): (Kasimir Gaston) was living on the second floor by now, the door open. It was so hot there was no power. When he woke up, he says, he came up on the balcony and witnessed police gunning down an unarmed running man.

KASIMIR GASTON, WITNESS: He just fell like, like he was collapsing, like, like he was collapsing. Like something had just like wiped him out.

GRIFFIN: You didn't see a gun on him?

GASTON: I didn't see any.

GRIFFIN: Did any of the police officers at the time, at the scene ask what you saw?

GASTON: No.

GRIFFIN: Did they take a statement from you?

GASTON: Not from me. He dropped right here.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The only thing police told Gaston was not to touch Ronald Madison's body, which was lying beside Gaston's truck.

GASTON: He was laying like probably his body was stretched out about this close to the bumper.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): This photo was taken by a newspaper photographer that day. On the right, you can see a damaged red taillight. It matched up perfectly with Gaston's pick-up truck a full year later. On the truck you can see the marks of what Gaston said police told him were gunshots.

GASTON: They notified me I had two bullet holes in the passenger side.

GRIFFIN: At the start of 2007, a state grand jury would indict seven cops all from that budget truck in the bridge shooting. On the first morning after New Year's day, the seven marched into court as a crowd of fellow policemen applauded and hugged the shooters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heroes right here.

GRIFFIN: The next summer, the judge threw out the charges on a technicality. In the fall of 2009, the FBI reopened the case. Agents went to the bridge to study the crime scene. With the feds taking over, cops started pleading guilty.

Five so far in the spring and summer of 2010 and at last, a different story began to emerge. The official police report said police did recover a gun at the bridge. But, a detective in his guilty plea said the investigator Sergeant Arthur Kofman took the gun from a bag in his garage after first telling the detective it was a ham sandwich. The federal prosecutor --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The extent of the cover up is very, very significant.

GRIFFIN: Next to plead guilty, three of the cops on the bridge including Michael Hunter seen here who drove the budget truck. Hunter and the other two cops each said all the civilians on the bridge were unarmed. No shots were fired at police. No guns were found.

This teenager, James Brissett was killed and four others wounded when police drove up and open fired. Two shots struck him in the back of the neck. On the other side of the bridge, Hunter said, he saw this officer Robert Falcon shot Ronald Madison from behind without warning.

Hunter said in guilty plea, this officer, Sergeant Kenneth Bowen, quote, "Began kicking or stomping Ronald Madison as he lay dying."

JIM LETTEN, U.S. ATTORNEY: We are going to follow this evidence all the way to the end of the trail and will not rest until we bring everyone to justice.

GRIFFIN: In July, four policemen including Bowen and Falcon were indicted on civil rights charges for causing the death of Brisset. Falcon was also charged with Madison's death. Each could face the death penalty. The same indictment also accused Kofman and a second sergeant of conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Defense Attorney Frank (Desalvo) has an explanation for why victims like James Brisset might be shot in the back if they turn to run.

FRANK DESALVO, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Sometimes they do. They are moving or they could have been in the process of turning around when the shots were fired.

GRIFFIN: This may have happened in the fourth fatal police shooting that week. Four officers driving up this street said they saw a man pulling a gun from a plastic bag.

The first shot at this corner missed him. The second, they said, struck him in the back as he turned away. On the Danzinger Bridge, Desalvo argued the police were not the only ones with guns on that fateful day that Lance Madison said as much at an early court hearing.

DESALVO: He said that he and his brother were being shot at not by the police, but, by six other people. They were being shot at when the police arrived on the scene and joined in, you know, in the defense. Now, he said this under oath.

GRIFFIN: The trial is not expected to begin until next year. From Romel Madison, a dentist, the older brother in the family, it has been a long wait.

(on camera): Of all the victims of Hurricane Katrina, your brother among them, was justice and the rule of law also a victim in this town?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. They were just as -- they were just as badly wounded as my brother was because it just doesn't exist.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: On this summer evening, not yet three months in office as New Orleans new mayor, Mitch (Landrieu) is getting to know the city's poor neighborhoods.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He tackled me, did you see that. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He tackled the mayor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think you're funny, don't you? You think you're funny.

GRIFFIN: (Landrieu) and his new police chief, Ronal (Serpas) are leading a walk in a show of police presence and support on this crime riddled street. This woman appeals for help to stop gunfire in a nearby park so children can play in safety.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Going boom, boom, boom. I was there last week with my granddaughter. I lay on top of her. She's 5 years old.

GRIFFIN: On this street, guard dogs are no protection against gunshots in the middle of the night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saturday night between 11:00 and 11:30, bullet holes right there. A drive by, come on. Let me show something. It went right through that window and into the third room of my mother's house.

GRIFFIN: This widow tells the new chief her husband was shot to death here a year ago. It's still an unsolved murder.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never heard nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can do better than that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to be in touch with you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

GRIFFIN: After Katrina, after all that has gone wrong, the mayor knows people were reluctant to trust police.

(on camera): When you read the revelations in the Danzinger Bridge case, not just the crime itself, but the cover up, can people in this city right now have faith in this police department?

MITCH LANDRIEU, MAYOR, NEW ORLEANS: No, I don't think so. The department is supposed to protect and serve and right now, it's not doing either of those things well. My top priority as mayor is to make this city safe. It can't be safe without a police department that people trust.

GRIFFIN: A total of 16 policemen are now under indictment or have pleaded guilty in Katrina deaths. Not just in the Danzinger Bridge case, but also five more charged in another shooting at this shopping center where a rookie cop is accused of killing a man in the parking lot.

Two of the officers, including this police lieutenant are accused of covering up the crime by putting the body in this abandoned car and setting fire to it. All the accused have pleaded not guilty. RONAL SERPAS, POLICE SUPERINTENDENT, NOPD: We are not going to turn our eyes to the fact people made really poor decisions. We'll do everything we can to remove from the force those people who have violated the trust and confidence that they had when they came off. We don't need them or want them.

GRIFFIN: Civil Rights attorney Mary Howell says police failures have not only fed mistrust, but have encouraged crime.

MARY HOWELL, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: At the same time that we are having these terrible problems with corruption and brutality in the department, we also lead the nation in crime and in homicides and violent crime.

GRIFFIN: In this first year in office for Mayor Landrieu, New Orleans has been averaging a murder every other day. On the first day as mayor, Landrieu brought in Justice Department lawyers to help reform the police force.

LANDRIEU: I'm fully willing to go the federal court route and to work into a consent degree.

GRIFFIN: In other words, put the police department under federal court supervision until it can be brought under control.

LANDRIEU: As a kid that grew up in the city of New Orleans, you know, you get very, very frustrated that things have been allowed to get this bad. But you have to acknowledge that and then you have to right the ship. You have to turn it around and force it to go the right direction and that's what we're intending to like doing.

GRIFFIN: In Mary Howell's mind, Hurricane Katrina simply laid bare just how bad the problems were.

HOWELL: It doesn't cause any of this, it just revealed the degree to which, once again, this department had collapsed.

GRIFFIN (on camera): The NOPD was supposed to hold the line between order and anarchy, but with no command structure, no tools to do their job, it came down to individual cops, some bad, some good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at these poor people.

OFFICER RICCI FAYARD, FIRST DISTRICT, NOPD: We didn't wait for anybody to tell us. We just made the decisions. We did what needed to be done.

OFFICER THOMAS REDMANN, FIFTH DISTRICT, NOPD: It seemed like the usual rules has sort of been turned off and it's scary if you don't know how things are going to go. You don't know how your actions are going to be judged down the road.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, hold your breath.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): In New Orleans' hour of need, the NOPD was both the city's finest and its worst, a contradiction that reflects the city itself.

SIMPSON: We have everything in our police department, the good, the bad, the ugly. We are all here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody said something like, things like this build character. Tough times build character. It doesn't build character, it reveals character.