BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A white man could be mentally fit to stand trial on charges he shot at three black men in a racially motivated attack in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck 12 years ago.
In a court filing Friday, federal prosecutors said mental health records suggest a psychiatrist evaluated Roland Bourgeois Jr. earlier this year and determined he was competent to stand trial. A lawyer for Bourgeois provided those records to prosecutors last week.
Bourgeois’ trial has been postponed more than a dozen times since his 2010 indictment because of questions about his mental competency. Prosecutors are seeking more medical records to determine if Bourgeois is mentally and physically fit for trial.
Bourgeois wounded at least one of the three black men he fired at with a shotgun after the 2005 hurricane, authorities said.
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Bourgeois’ indictment said he and others discussed shooting black people and defending the city’s Algiers Point neighborhood from “outsiders” after the storm. It claimed he bragged that he “got” one after the shooting, and then retrieved a bloody baseball cap belonging to one of the victims.
“When (he) was advised that the man he had shot was still alive, Bourgeois referred to the injured man using a racial epithet and threatened he would kill him,” the indictment says.
In 2010, two of Bourgeois’ doctors testified he could have less than a year to live. Dr. John Thompson, a court-appointed forensic psychiatrist, determined in 2011 that Bourgeois has psychiatric and medical problems that impair his competency and concluded he shouldn’t stand trial until he has a liver transplant.
But the newly disclosed mental health records suggest that Thompson informed Bourgeois in July that he was competent to stand trial, according to prosecutors. Last Friday’s court filing by prosecutors doesn’t elaborate on the psychiatrist’s findings.
A judge had scheduled a competency hearing for Bourgeois on Thursday but agreed to postpone it indefinitely, giving prosecutors more time to obtain other medical records.
A federal public defender who represents Bourgeois didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday.
Bourgeois lived in Columbia, Mississippi, at the time of his indictment.
The case against Bourgeois was one of several investigated by the Justice Department after Katrina. Most of the cases focused on actions by New Orleans police officers.