Officers to Serve Up to 65 Years for Katrina Shooting

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Five former New Orleans police officers have been sentenced to up to 65 years in prison for their roles in a deadly shooting after Hurricane Katrina.

Less than a week after the 2005 storm, a group of officers fired on unarmed New Orleans residents on the Danziger Bridge, killing two people.

A widespread criminal probe of the department before and after Katrina then revealed cover-ups and police misconduct that led to charges against 20 current or former officers. The five officers sentenced Wednesday were involved in planting a gun, fabricating witnesses and falsifying reports.

Federal and city officials are now working on court-ordered reforms of that department.

"Culture change does not occur overnight," Tom Perez, head of the Justice Department's civil rights division, said Wednesday.

"The challenges that we saw manifested in the Danziger Bridge trial were many years in the making and they will take many years to resolve," he added.

The entire investigation has led to frustration within the community over the practices within the police department, and unfair sentencing.

Because of state sentencing laws and plea bargains, some of the officers received decades in prison, while others will only spend a few years.

"These through-the-looking-glass plea deals that tied the hands of this court ... are an affront to the court and a disservice to the community," U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhard said.

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