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Last Updated: Friday, 29 December 2006, 11:02 GMT
Police face Katrina murder charge
New Orleans police
The deaths came as police battled to restore order in New Orleans
Four New Orleans police officers have been charged with murder in connection with two fatal shootings in the wake of Hurricane Katrina last year.

Three more officers were charged with attempted murder for the shootings, which also left four people wounded.

The incident on the Danziger Bridge, linking two mainly black, flooded neighbourhoods, came six days after the hurricane left New Orleans in chaos.

Defence lawyers say their clients are innocent of the charges.

'Rabid dogs'

The grand jury issued the charges after hearing weeks of testimony on the incident in September 2005.

US police in the hurricane-stricken city initially said the shooting occurred after contractors came under fire from gunmen while crossing the bridge under police escort.

"We cannot allow our police officers to shoot and kill our citizens without justification like rabid dogs," District Attorney Eddie Jordan said.

Police Superintendent Warren Riley urged the community to withhold judgment until a jury decided their guilt or innocence.

"As a wise man once said, a district attorney can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich," defence lawyer Franz Zibilich said.

"They heard only one side of the story."

The incident came in the chaotic aftermath of last year's storm, as the authorities vowed to restore security in the city following a breakdown of law and order.

Katrina claimed almost 1,700 lives in Louisiana and Mississippi.


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