NEW ORLEANS (CN) – Three current and former New Orleans Police officers were convicted Thursday in the shooting death of 31-year-old Henry Glover, whose body was burned by an officer four days after Hurricane Katrina. The split verdict found two other officers innocent of the same crimes.
The verdict came after three days of deliberation and a 3-week trial before a federal jury.
After the verdict was delivered, U.S. Attorney Jim Letten called it “a critical phase in the recovery and healing of this city, of the people … and this region.”
The jury found former New Orleans Police Officer David Warren guilty of manslaughter and deprivation of civil rights for shooting at Glover without justification outside a strip mall in the New Orleans’ suburb of Algiers on Sept. 2, 2005.
The charge of deprivation of civil rights under color of law stems from abuse of his status as police officer while engaging in illegal activities.
Prosecutors said Warren shot at Glover from the balcony of a makeshift police station on the second floor of the strip mall, ostensibly because he had seen Glover headed toward the police station carrying something.
After the shooting, Glover’s friends flagged down an innocent civilian as he drove by in a Chevy Malibu and asked the man to drive them to a makeshift emergency center in a nearby school.
When the three men got to the school, instead of finding help, they were beaten by police officers, who then fled the school with the Chevy Malibu with Glover’s body in it.
Lt. Gregory McRae was found guilty of burning Glover’s body and the car it was found in. Glover is believed to have been dead already from Warren’s shooting when his body was burned. McRae was also found guilty of beating the three innocent men who tried to get Glover medical attention after the shooting.
After the verdict was delivered, McRae’s attorney Frank DeSalvo said, “We admitted that he burned the car, because he did burn the car, but we never thought he violated anyone’s civil rights. He was just facing difficult circumstances.”
The jury found current New Orleans Police Officer Dwayne Scheuermann not guilty. Of all the indicted officers, Scheuermann was charged with the most crimes, including burning Glover’s body and beating innocent civilians.
Scheuermann’s attorney Roger Kitchens said the police officers, including his client, “just did a job and made the right call. It takes some strong people to do what they did. It starts up with all the media and negative press. These jurors have a difficult job to do, and they did it.”
Lt. Travis McCabe was found guilty of lying to federal officials during their investigation.
Former Lt. Robert Italiano also was acquitted on all counts.
This case is part of an continuing investigation by the Justice Department’s Civil Right’s Division of “patterns or practices” of alleged misconduct in the New Orleans Police Department in the days after Katrina.
“We believe this is an important victory, not only for the U.S., but for the citizens of the city and family of the victim, Henry Glover,” Letten said. “There are men and women in the police department who honor the badge each and every day. This is a win for them, too.”
Earlier this year at least four New Orleans police officers accused of killing two men on the Danziger Bridge after Katrina were indicted on federal charges.
Letten said the New Orleans Police department has made many positive changes recently to curb corruption.
“There was and is a culture that is changing, and I think that needs to be changed,” Letten said. “This is part of the process that, I think, helps to change that culture.
David Warren was the only one of the men already in federal custody. After the verdict, the other officers left the courthouse with their families.
A bond hearing will be held today (Friday) for convicted officers McRae and McCabe. U.S. District Judge Lance Africk will determine if they will be taken into custody immediately or remain free until sentencing.
The convicted shooter, Warren, will stay in jail. Judge Africk will set a sentencing date for him for sometime in 2011.