by Sabrina Shankman, Tom Jennings, Brendan McCarthy, Laura Maggi and A.C. Thompson
July 24, 2012 5:35 pm EDT
Updated July 24: The New Orleans Police Department and the Department of Justice have reached an agreement for top-to-bottom reforms of the troubled police force. The plan addresses a range of issues, several of which we reported on in our coverage of police shootings in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Since our reporting, federal prosecutors have built a string of criminal cases against 20 current or former officers.
This story was originally published on Aug. 24, 2010 and was co-published with The New Orleans Times-Picayune.
In the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina, an order circulated among New Orleans police authorizing officers to shoot looters, according to present and former members of the department.
It’s not clear how broadly the order was communicated. Some officers who heard it say they refused to carry it out. Others say they understood it as a fundamental change in the standards on deadly force, which allow police to fire only to protect themselves or others from what appears to be an imminent physical threat.