NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A mental health examination was ordered Tuesday for a White man charged with shooting at three Black men in what federal prosecutors said was a racially motivated attack following Hurricane Katrina.
Roland Bourgeois Jr. was indicted in 2010 and pleaded not guilty to federal charges including civil rights and firearms violations. His federal trial has been postponed more than a dozen times amid questions about his physical and mental health.
U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon on Tuesday ordered that Bourgeois be transported to a federal medical facility for examination.
Prosecutors said in a filing last week that mental health records suggest a psychiatrist evaluated Bourgeois this year and determined he was competent for trial.
Authorities said Bourgeois fired a shotgun at three Black men, wounding one, after he and others discussed shooting Black people and defending the Algiers Point neighborhood of New Orleans from “outsiders” after the 2005 storm.
Bourgeois lived in Columbia, Mississippi, at the time of his indictment.
In 2010, two of Bourgeois’ doctors testified he could have less than a year to live because of medical problems.
Dr. John Thompson, a court-appointed forensic psychiatrist, determined in 2011 that Bourgeois has psychiatric and medical problems that impair his competency. However, the newly disclosed mental health records suggest that Thompson informed Bourgeois in July that he was competent to stand trial, according to last month’s filing by prosecutors. It doesn’t elaborate on the psychiatrist’s findings.
Bourgeois had been granted bond. But he was back in custody in August for a hearing on an undisclosed bond violation. He appeared frail and was using a cane at the brief hearing.