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Danziger Families Back Plea Deal

Two members of families shattered in the Danziger Bridge shooting 11 years ago say they can live with seeing police officers who opened fire that day have their sentences cut by decades.  The prison terms were cut Wednesday by the same federal judge who sentenced them – and later ordered new trials for prosecutors’ misconduct. Relatives say it was more important that the officers admit what they did.

Five former New Orleans police officers will be getting out of jail much sooner than they thought. They had received lengthy prison terms for shooting unarmed civilians and covering up their crimes. Two were killed and four severely wounded.

Top prosecutors – now gone – posted anonymous comments on line, and were found out.  

US Attorney Ken Polite was then named to head the office, and repair its image.

“It undermined the work of this office and the Department of Justice and called into question the credibility and integrity of the people who do it,” he said.      

But two members of families whose loved ones were killed said they wanted an admission of guilt more than officers spending a longer time behind bars.

Lance Madison remembered his mentally challenged brother Ronald, who was 40, and was shot and killed.

“We are glad that this part is over with, that the New Orleans police officers responsible for this terrible incident and the cover-up has finally admitted to their guilt," he said.

Sherrel Johnson’s 17-year-old son, James Brissett, was also shot to death.

“I finally got what I wanted -- someone to confess ‘I did it. I did it.” And that did my heart all the good in the world," she said.

Polite says federal prosecutors would not have agreed to the plea deal without the support of the victims and families.  

Eileen is a news reporter and producer for WWNO. She researches, reports and produces the local daily news items. Eileen relocated to New Orleans in 2008 after working as a writer and producer with the Associated Press in Washington, D.C. for seven years.

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