By Andrew Cheramie
September 24, 2011
Family’s struggle key to justice being served
Two New Orleans Police Department officers were sentenced Sept. 15 in the beating death of Raymond Robair. Six years earlier, before Katrina hit New Orleans, local handyman Raymond Robair, 48, was beaten to death. Former NOPD officers Melvin Williams, an NOPD veteran known for a high number of arrests, and Dean Moore, a rookie, were found guilty in April.
Williams was sentenced to over 21 years, while Moore will serve more than 5 years. Moore stood by and did nothing while Williams brutally killed an unarmed man who was not implicated in any crime. Witnesses saw the former officers beat Robair to death while he was attempting to fix a neighbor’s roof vent.
After fatally beating him, the former officers dumped Robair at Charity Hospital without any documentation. They never responded to radio calls. They later claimed Robair had powder cocaine in a bag wet with saliva on him and overdosed.
As part of the cover-up, Williams and Moore claimed Robair ran and fell as an explanation for his injuries. Robair died with a lacerated spleen and fractured ribs, which are incompatible with an injury caused by falling.
Judonna Mitchell, Robair’s daughter stated, “Maybe they thought that no one would care about Raymond. Maybe they thought no one loved Raymond enough to fight to hold them accountable for causing his death.”
Robair’s grandaughter, Dacia Mitchell, said the family was not sure “there is a penalty great enough” for the officers who “robbed of us the joy” Robair brought them. (NOLA.com, Sept. 15)
The Federal Bureau of Investigations opened a probe into Robair’s death in 2005. An NOPD investigation, spearheaded by Sgt. Gerald Dugue, cleared the officers of any wrongdoing. Relying on that investigation, the FBI closed its Robair case file in 2006.
Since then Dugue has been investigated for allegedly glossing over facts in other investigations and is set to stand trial in January for his role in the police cover-up of the Danziger Bridge shootings.
The FBI reopened the investigation into the Robair case in 2008, around the same time that they began to look further into the Danziger case.
Because this was a federal case, the officers were charged not with the murder but with violating Raymond Robair’s civil rights and the conspiracy to cover it up. This is similar to the guilty verdict handed out to the five officers involved in the Danziger Bridge Massacre, who were found guilty just over a month ago.
These thugs with badges were only held accountable after years of struggle by the families of the victims and community activists who fight back against rampant, racist police brutality and misconduct. New Orleans, a city known for its corrupt and brutal police department, serves a corrupt and negligent city government in charge of policing some of the poorest people in the United States.
While the FBI and the federal courts have been instrumental in bringing these killer cops to justice, the FBI is no friend of civil rights. It is an arm of the repressive state apparatus that protects the interests of the capitalist class. Real justice against police brutality can ultimately only be won by the mobilization of the people and by winning a social system where the state and its armed bodies exist to defend the interests of the working class.