Saturday, December 11, 2010

Crime: Three New Orleans Police Officers Found Guilty in the Post-Katrina Shooting and Burning

A federal jury in New Orleans convicted three current and former New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) officers, David Warren, Greg McRae, and Lt. Travis McCabe, in relation to the post-Katrina shooting death of Henry Glover, and the subsequent burning of Glover’s remains and obstruction of justice.

The jury found former NOPD Officer David Warren guilty of a civil rights violation, resulting in death, for the Sept. 2, 2005, shooting of civilian Henry Glover, as well as use of a firearm during a crime of manslaughter. The jury heard evidence that defendant Warren shot Glover in the back as Glover was running away from him. In a separate charge, the jury found Warren guilty of using a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence. Warren faces a possible life sentence for the civil rights shooting crimes, and up to 15 years’ imprisonment for the firearms manslaughter.

Evidence presented at trial established that Officer Warren, while stationed on a second floor lookout, shot Henry Glover, who was a floor below him and running away. Glover’s brother and a friend flagged down a passing motorist, “Good Samaritan” William Tanner, who put the wounded Glover in his car to try to get medical attention for him. However, when the group of men drove up to a makeshift police station seeking help for Glover, police officers surrounded the men at gunpoint, handcuffed them, and let Henry Glover die in the back seat of the car. McRae then drove off with Tanner’s car, with Glover’s body inside, and burned both the body and the car with traffic flare.

The jury convicted current Officer McRae, who was one of the officers at the makeshift station, on two counts of civil rights violations. One of the civil rights counts charged that he willfully used fire to destroy a civilian’s property by burning and destroying Tanner’s car, and the other civil rights count charged that he willfully deprived Glover’s family members of their right to seek redress in the courts for his death. The jury also convicted McRae on one count of obstruction of justice and one count of using fire in the commission of a felony. McRae faces a possible sentence of 50 years in prison.

The jury also convicted NOPD Lt. Travis McCabe, who obstructed justice by writing and submitting a false report about the shooting of Henry Glover. McCabe was also convicted for lying to the FBI and committing perjury by lying to a federal grand jury convened to investigate Glover’s death. McCabe faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

The jury acquitted Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann, who was accused of aiding and abetting the burning of the car, and Lt. Robert Italiano, who was accused of participating in the cover up.

“Instead of upholding their oath to protect and serve the people of New Orleans in the days after Hurricane Katrina, these officers violated the law and the public trust,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “And while some officers broke through the thin blue line and told the truth under oath, others were rightly convicted for obstructing justice. Today's verdict brought a measure of justice to the Glover family and to the entire city.”

“Today’s verdicts send a powerful message that no one is above the law, and that those who are sworn to protect our citizens are never, under any circumstances, relieved of their sacred responsibilities under our constitution. We will continue to do everything in our power—and use every law and weapon in our arsenal of justice to make certain that our police never abuse power they wield. Today is an important step forward for the courageous Glover family and the people of New Orleans, and an important move toward the city’s healing and rebuilding,” said Jim Letten, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

David Welker, FBI Special Agent in Charge for Louisiana, said, “Today’s verdict demonstrates the continued diligence and commitment of the FBI to aggressively and fairly pursue civil rights violations, with the goal of bringing to justice those who abuse the very citizens they are entrusted to protect and serve.”

During the course of the month-long trial, jurors heard from 65 witnesses, including all five of the defendants. Jurors deliberated for three days before returning their verdict.

This case was investigated by the New Orleans Field Office of the FBI, and was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Jared Fishman of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tracey Knight and Michael Magner for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs