NEW ORLEANS, LA - Jury selection has begun for two New Orleans police officers charged in a 2005 beating death and its coverup in another black eye for the troubled force.
Federal prosecutors say Melvin Williams kicked and beat Raymond Robair to death on a sidewalk in July 2005, shortly before Hurricane Katrina. Williams' then-partner, Matthew Moore, is charged with covering up the crime with a false report terming it a "medical incident."
Robair's death was reviewed at the time but gained prominence after post-Katrina police crimes were exposed.
The police report said when the officers encountered Robair, he was stumbling and clutching his chest. The officers said they took him to a hospital and left him there.
But the indictment asserts that Williams kicked Robair and beat him with a baton.
Williams, charged with obstruction of justice and one count of deprivation of rights under color of law, faces life if convicted. Moore, charged with obstruction and false statements, faces a maximum of 25 years. Both have pleaded not guilty.
The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, citing court filings, predicts the prosecution will call witnesses from the scene and hospital staff. It also is likely to say Williams has a history of abuse and misconduct.