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Spike Lee, Danziger and NOPD Statistics 

  Wearing an orange bubble jacket, movie director Spike Lee was dressed for a chilly morning of filming recently at the now-notorious Danziger Bridge. Lee interviewed family members, friends and loved ones of Ronald Madison, 40, a mentally disabled man, and James Brisette, 19, who were killed by New Orleans police at Danziger on Sept. 4, 2005, during the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. For more than four years, NOPD has classified the Danziger shootings as justifiable homicides by police officers — and not among the 211 murders tallied in the city for 2005. Recent guilty pleas by former NOPD Lt. Michael Lohman and ex-cop Jeffrey Lehrmann may force NOPD to revisit its post-Katrina murder statistics, a local expert says. "Clearly, those statistics need to be viewed cautiously," says Tulane University criminologist Peter Scharf. "Going forward, there are concerns about New Orleans' comparative murder rates and risks with other cities. How can these totals be updated and reconciled with coroner's statistics, which have a higher total than NOPD [murder] reports? A second issue is population estimates, which were over-estimated by local authorities after the storm." Lee's HBO documentary on post-Katrina New Orleans is scheduled to air in August, around the time of the fifth anniversary of the hurricane. — Allen Johnson Jr.

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