NEW ORLEANS (CN) – Five New Orleans Police Officers were charged in the fatal shooting, burning and cover-up of the killing of a New Orleans man in the days after Hurricane Katrina. The 11-count federal indictment came on the heels of a civil rights lawsuit from the late Henry Glover’s family, which described the events that led to the discovery of Glover’s burned car and charred body.
According to the civil complaint, on Sept. 2, 2005 Glover was walking with a friend near a mall in the Algiers neighborhood on the west bank of the Mississippi River when New Orleans police Officer David Warren saw them from his station on the mall’s second floor. He shot at them with his assault rifle and hit Glover, according to the complaint.
Glover’s friend ran to get assistance from Glover’s brother and sister. One of them flagged down a passing Chevy Malibu, and asked the driver to take Glover to get medical help. They drove to a makeshift police station in a school and left Glover in the back seat of the Chevy while they went into the station for help.
Capt. Jeff Winn and Officer Greg McRae were inside the station, but rather than help the men, the officers handcuffed and beat them, according to the complaint.
The family claims that Winn told McRae to drive the Chevy with Glover in back to a secluded spot on the Algiers levee. Lt. Dwayne Scheurmann was told to follow McRae in another car, according to the complaint.
At the levee, the Malibu was set on fire, with Glover still in the back seat, “causing his body to be burned beyond recognition and leaving DNA as the only method of identification of the remains,” the complaint states.
Police Sgt. Purnella Simmons wrote a report on the incident with the intention of covering it up, the complaint states.
Simmons, however, is not named as a defendant.
Glover’s family says they were unaware of the Police Department’s acts and cover-up until the Times-Picayune reported it on May 24 and 26, 2010.
It is one of several investigations of New Orleans Police officers’ actions in the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina struck, on Aug. 29, 2005, and the levees broke. Police have been accused of several shooting deaths and cover-ups in the days when the city was flooded, citizens were stranded without food and water and the city was cut off from the outside world.
An indictment issued on Friday accused five current or former police officers of involvement in Glover’s death and burning.
Former police Officer David Warren was charged with violating Glover’s rights by shooting him to death. He also was charged with unlawful use of a firearm. If convicted of all charges, he could face up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Warren was arrested and is in federal custody.
U.S. Attorney Jim Letten wants Warren held in jail until trial.
Letten said in a statement that under some circumstances, prosecutors can seek a death sentence for a civil rights violation, but added that this case would require more review before such a recommendation might be made.
Officers Dwayne Scheuermann and Gregory McRae are charged with obstructing justice and burning Glover’s body and the car in which he was found. They also are accused of assaulting the men who tried to help Glover. If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison and $1 million in fines.
Police Officers Robert Italiano and Travis McCabe are charged with obstruction of justice for their alleged roles in submitting false reports of the incident and lying to investigators.
Italiano, if convicted, faces a maximum prison sentence of 25 years and a $500,000 fine.
If convicted, McCabe could get 30 years in prison and a $750,000 fine.
The civil complaint from Glover’s family did not name McCabe as a defendant. It did name as defendants the City of New Orleans, then-Mayor Ray Nagin, the New Orleans Police Department, Officer Linda Howard and Sgt. Erin Reilly.
Howard’s and Reilly’s alleged roles were not described in the complaint.
The family seeks more than $27 million in damages for conspiracy and pain and suffering. They are represented by Edwin Shorty Jr.