Five years after Henry Glover was killed in the days after Hurricane Katrina, his body then set ablaze in a car and pushed into a swampy levee, the five New Orleans cops who killed him and then tried to cover up his death received their punishment in a New Orleans courtroom. Last week a federal jury found three police officers guilty of manslaughter, civil rights violations and obstruction of justice. Two other police officers were acquitted.
David Warren was standing on a second-floor balcony of a strip mall when he shot Glover, who had driven to the mall to pick up stolen goods on Sept. 2, 2005. Warren was found guilty of manslaughter and civil rights violations for excessive force.
After two passers-by picked Glover up and brought him to a school that had been commandeered by police, officers Greg McRae and Dwayne Scheuermann beat up the men who were helping Glover and drove off in their car, with Glover still in the back seat. They pushed the car into a levee not far from a nearby police station and set fire to the car with Glover’s body still in the back.
McRae was found guilty of civil rights violations for burning Glover’s body and for obstruction of justice. Scheuermann, who’s got a lengthy records of civilian complaints against him, was acquitted. A.C. Thompson, whose investigative reporting of post-Katrina police killings led to these criminal investigations, reported for ProPublica that Scheuermann had used his gun in 15 separate incidents, injuring people on four separate occasions, but has never been disciplined.
Travis McCabe and Robert Italiano were charged with obstruction of justice for falsifying a police report and lying to federal investigators. Both denied ever knowingly lying on subsequent police reports to help cover up Warren’s shooting, though their testimony was contradicted by a fellow officer who said her police report on the shooting was later replaced with a fabricated one. McCabe was convicted, Italiano acquitted.
While Warren never denied shooting Glover, his and the other police officers’ defense claimed that the chaos in the days following Katrina made them fear for their lives, and led them to make rash decisions. Jeffrey Winn, a New Orleans police captain, testified that he directed McRae to burn the body because he didn’t want it decomposing around his police officers.
The jury came to their verdict after 12 days of witness testimony and three days of deliberations.
The case was taken up by the Department of Justice earlier this year. The DOJ is also investigating eight separate incidents, mostly surrounding post-Katrina police violence.
“Tonight’s verdict is a critical phase in the recovery and healing of this city, of the people of this region,” said U.S Attorney Jim Letten, New Orleans’ WWLTV reported. “I think it says a lot about the determination and commitment of the United States, the Department of Justice, the FBI and our partners.”
Earlier this month a federal judge sentenced another NOPD officer Michael Hunter to the maximum eight years in prison for his involvement in the Danziger Bridge incident that left two men dead and five others wounded. The criminal prosecutions of New Orleans police officers continue, but are just one part of the necessary work to reform the culture of New Orleans’ famously corrupt police force.
The New Orleans police department is working to remake itself from the ground up with actual systemic overhauls. NOPD’s new police chief Ronal Serpas unveiled a 65-point overhaul plan to the department this fall. The city’s got a new police monitor, and an impending consent decree with the Justice Department to monitor its progress.