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US policemen sentenced over beating death

20 september 2011, 15:28
Two New Orleans policemen have been sent to prison for beating a man to death in 2005 and later lying about the incident, AFP reports, quoting the US Justice Department.

Melvin Williams was sentenced on Thursday to more than 20 years in jail for "violating the civil rights of (Raymond) Robair by beating him to death, and for obstructing justice in the wake of that beating," the department said.

Fellow police officer Matthew Dean Moore was sentenced to nearly six years in jail for "obstructing justice and for making false statements to the FBI." He was also ordered to pay $11,576 in restitution.

According to court documents, Williams and Moore stopped Robair on the morning of July 30, 2005. While Moore restrained Robair, Williams kicked him in the side and struck him repeatedly with a metal baton.

Robair "suffered fractured ribs and a ruptured spleen, injuries that triggered massive internal bleeding," the Justice Department said.

The two policemen then took Robair to hospital, where they falsely told medics he was suffering from a drug overdose. He bled to death as the hospital staff was treating him as an overdose patient.

In a police report filed after Robair's death, the two officers said they saw an unidentified man clutch his chest and fall to the ground, so they took him to hospital.

"The New Orleans Police Department has been broken for some time, and this case shows just that," said Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

"I hope that today's sentences bring justice for the family of Raymond Robair and the entire community."

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