On 4 September 2005, the four officers fired on six civilians – going to shop for groceries and check on family property – without justification. Four were wounded – a woman had part of her arm blown off, her husband was shot in the head. Two were killed.
Even if the city has been reliving the tragedy for some time – state charges were filed against the defendants in 2006, but that case later fell apart – the details in the federal indictments still had the power to appal. They describe the shooting in the back of the mentally disabled man, Ronald Madison, as he tried to run away, and offer a new detail: after Madison fell, already mortally wounded, one of the officers stamped on his body.
Those facing possible death sentences are the police officers Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius and Anthony Villavaso as well as former officer Robert Faulcon. They are charged not with murder but rather "deprivation of rights under colour of law". Along with two other officers, they are also charged with attempting to construct an elaborate cover-up that hinged on their assertions at the time that they had been fired upon on the bridge, which, it is alleged, they hadn't.