It only took five years, but Feds are finally looking to make five NOLA cops pay for shooting an unarmed ‘looter’ and burning his body to cover it up.
Two years after they launched the first in a series of civil rights probes into the New Orleans Police Department, which have resulted in charges against 20 officers in four separate cases to date, federal prosecutors will face their first major test in court today, as a trial begins in the shooting death of Henry Glover in Algiers after Hurricane Katrina and a shocking cover-up that allegedly followed.
Five current and former New Orleans police officers will stand trial. One is charged with shooting 31-year-old Henry Glover; two are charged with beating people who tried to help him and burning his body in a car; and two are charged with preparing a fraudulent police report about his death. FBI agents and federal prosecutors have been developing the case since early 2009, when an article first appeared about Glover’s death and the discovery of his charred remains in a car on the Algiers levee days after the storm.
A federal grand jury indicted the officers in June and the case has been on a fast track to trial from the start. One of the defendants, former officer David Warren, has pushed for a speedy trial, in large part because he has been held in pretrial detention at a local jail.
Warren is the only officer in the case who is accused of firing a weapon. He shot Glover from a second-story balcony where the rookie officer was guarding the 4th District’s detective bureau office in a strip mall on Gen. de Gaulle Drive. Prosecutors believe the shooting was improper; in one recent court filing, they state that Glover was unarmed and shot as he fled from the strip mall after Warren yelled, “Police! Get out!”
But the former officer’s attorneys have argued the shooting was justified, maintaining Warren had a reasonable belief his life was in danger from Glover. Glover had driven with a friend to the strip mall to collect some stolen goods that had been left there.
After Glover was shot, his brother, a friend and a stranger tried to get medical attention for him. But the stranger, William Tanner, ended up driving the wounded man to a nearby school, Paul B. Habans Elementary, where the NOPD’s SWAT team had set up a compound. There, prosecutors say that, instead of offering help, Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann and Officer Greg McRae beat Tanner and Glover’s brother, Edward King.
Those officers are also accused of seizing Tanner’s car and driving it to the Algiers levee, behind the 4th District station, where they allegedly set the vehicle containing Glover’s body on fire.