Michael Hunter stood quietly as a judge sentenced the former New Orleans police officer today to eight years in federal prison for his role in the cover-up and deadly shooting of unarmed civilians who were searching for food after Hurricane Katrina. The sentence by US District Judge Sarah Vance was the maximum allowed and nine months more than the sentencing guidelines recommended. Vance called the police shooting on the Danziger Bridge that killed two and wounded four civilians "sickeningly brutal."
Hunter admitted firing at the people on the bridge, although he knew they were unarmed and posed no threat, but said he did not hit anyone. But Vance pointed out that he did nothing to stop his fellow officers from firing, in fact watching an officer shoot one mentally disabled man "in the back at close range." Hunter, who pleaded guilty as part of a deal with prosecutors, is one of five former officers who have pleaded guilty in the shootings. Six other current or former officers also have been indicted on charges related to the shooting and cover-up.