Earlier release sought in deadly post-Katrina shooting
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A former New Orleans police officer imprisoned for his role in the deadly shooting of unarmed civilians amid post-Hurricane Katrina chaos asked a federal court Friday to move up his 2020 release date, citing prison reform legislation passed by Congress last year.
Robert Faulcon was one of four officers convicted in unjust shootings and a subsequent cover-up in one of the scandals that eventually led to major court-backed reforms at the New Orleans Police Department.
Two people died and four were hurt in the 2005 shootings at the Danziger Bridge six days after levee failures during the hurricane flooded most of the city.
After an initial conviction that was later overturned, Faulcon pleaded guilty in a deal with prosecutors in 2016. He was sentenced to 12 years — with credit for time served since he was jailed in 2010.
He pleaded to one civil rights deprivation charge involving the shooting death of a victim and two charges related to obstructing the investigation.
The federal Bureau of Prisons currently lists his release date as Dec. 25, 2020.
His request for an earlier release is tied to last year’s First Step Act, which includes provisions allowing federal inmates to earn 54 days a year of good behavior credit rather than 47. President Donald Trump signed the bill in December .
Faulcon wants a new release date of Oct. 2, 2020, with transfer to a halfway house in October of this year and home confinement that would begin the following April.
Federal prosecutors have not filed a response.
Faulcon’s is the only signature on the document, which he mailed from a federal prison in Big Spring, Texas. It was filed at U.S. District Court in New Orleans.
The document states that Faulcon has taken part in self-help programs, educational and vocational training and anger management classes.
“Petitioner does not minimize that he participated in the crime,” the document says.
Police said at the time of the shootings that the officers were responding to a report of other officers down when they came under fire at the Danziger Bridge.
However, a federal investigation led to a 2011 trial in which Faulcon and three others who opened fire were convicted for the shootings and the cover-up. Another officer was convicted in the cover-up alone. Those convictions were overturned in 2013 after the presiding judge determined the trial had been tainted by prosecutorial misconduct, including leaks to media and anonymous online comments.