NEW ORLEANS - Three former New Orleans police officers were found guilty Thursday in connection with the shooting death of Henry Glover, the burning of his body and the attempt to cover it up. Two other officers were found not guilty in the alleged cover-up.
Slideshow: Graphic list of the verdicts
David Warren, the man who shot Glover, was found guilty of a civil rights violation for the use of excessive force that resulted in the death of Glover. Warren was also found guilty of use of a firearm to commit a crime of violence, and the jury decided the result was manslaughter.
"We don't believe that Mr. Warren intentionally did anything wrong. He may have acted fast, but in these situations you have to," said Julian Murray, Warren's attorney. "We are dissapointed, but we respect the system, we respect the jury and the court... I just think the decision was wrong."
Officer Greg McRae was found guilty of civil rights violation for the burning of Glover’s body after the fact and obstruction of justice.
Officer Travis McCabe was found guilty of perjury in the cover-up.
Officers Dwayne Scheuermann and Robert Italiano were found not guilty.
Judge Lance Africk said Warren would remain in custody. Bond will be set Friday morning on McRae and McCabe.
"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. "I think it says a lot about the determination and commitment of the United States, the Department of Justice, the FBI and our partners."
Rebecca Glover, the victim's aunt, said the verdicts did not vindicate her nephew's death.
"Not until we get his skull. We still never got his skull. So we only have part of him," Rebecca Glover said.
The five former and current officers were accused in the death of 31-year-old Glover, whose remains were found in a burned-out car behind an Algiers levee.
The defendants faced an 11-count indictment ranging from civil rights violations to using a weapon to commit a crime, use of fire to commit a felony and giving false statements to authorities.
After Judge Lance Africk read the jurors the instructions, the jury of seven women and five men began deliberating around 10 a.m. Tuesday before coming to their decision in the case.
Warren, 47, was accused of shooting Glover without justification, with a high-powered rifle on Sept. 2, 2005 at an Algiers strip mall and charged with violating Glover’s civil rights by using unreasonable force by a police officer. He was also charged with using a weapon to commit a crime of violence
As the accused triggerman, Warren faced the most serious charges in the case and the stiffest possible sentence: life in prison.
Scheuermann, 49, and McRae, 49, faced charges for beating William Tanner and Edward King, who stopped to help Glover, taking Tanner’s car and denying the men access to the courts. In addition, Scheuermann and McRae were accused of taking Tanner’s 2001 Malibu and burning Glover’s body. Each man faced up to 60 years in prison.
McCabe, 40, and Italiano, 61, were accused of perpetuating the cover-up to justify the shooting of Glover as each faced obstruction of justice charges and making false statements to the FBI.
Italiano faced up to 25 years in prison, and McCabe faced a maximum sentence of 30 years.
The Day In Question
Bernard Calloway, who was with Glover when he was shot, told the jury he and Glover went to the shopping center to pick up a suitcase stashed in the back of the stores, saying that is when he heard a loud pop and an officer yell, “Get back.”
Calloway testified that's when he took off running.
“I looked back to see if Henry was running and he was stumbling,” Calloway said. “He had his hand on his chest and said, “Man, I’m about to die. Tell my mother I love her.’”
Though he didn’t know Henry Glover, Tanner, according to his testimony, said he picked up him after finding him a few blocks from the Algiers strip mall.
When he found him he was lying on the ground, Glover was bleeding and had been shot.
Tanner told the jury Glover was “trying to say something and he was choking on blood.”
With the help of two men, he loaded Glover into his car and took him Paul Habans Elementary School, where the New Orleans Police Department had created a make-shift police station in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
According to testimony, when Tanner took Glover to Habans for medical assistance, he found little help.
“A cop came through the ranks out there and handcuffed and knocked his brother out cold and put us behind the squad car,” Tanner said on the witness stand.
“While they did that, Mr. Henry Glover was bleeding in the back seat of my car. I was very hurt that they didn’t check on or say anything about Henry Glover."
A Split Second to React
David Warren never denied firing at Glover. Instead Warren’s defense attorney tried to paint him as a man who shot Glover because he feared for his life amid a lawless, chaotic, crippled city in the days after Katrina.
Saying police felt a sense of vulnerability, especially after an officer was shot a day earlier at a gas station in Algiers, Warren said in testimony that two men jumped from a truck while he was on guard duty and approached him at the Algiers strip mall and he told them stop.
“They continued to come. The one who was in the lead concerned me. I couldn’t see his right hand, but it appeared he had a weapon. I had a split second to react,” he testified.
What was his split second reaction? Warren replied, “I fired a shot.”
Alan Baxter, an expert for the defense, said Warren "did everything properly."
Lead prosecutor Mike Magner cross examined Warren, portraying the former officer as a man obsessed with guns and ammo, even getting him to admit on the stand that he owned two dozen different weapons and attended numerous gun courses.
Warren’s partner Linda Howard testified that Warren shot at Glover and another man. She said both appeared to be unarmed.
“I asked him what you did that for. He said, ‘I didn’t hit him.’ I said, ‘Yes, you did,’” said Howard in her testimony.
Alec Brown, a former NOPD officer who left the force in 2008, testified he argued with Warren, about looters, saying Warren told him looters "were all animals and they deserved to be shot, and that they were all destroying the city."
Brown said he defended those taking the food, saying Warren’s comments were “not right.”
Brown told the court that he found Glover’s charred remains inside the torched car six days after Glover’s death. He said he told his superior officer Lt. Travis McCabe.
Brown said he was told “that they knew about it, don't worry about it. Police need to stick together.”
The Cover Up?
Told by his supervisor to get rid of Tanner’s car and adding that seeing dead bodies throughout the city had cause him great stress, McRae admitted that he torched the car behind the Algiers levee with Glover’s body inside – something he ultimately regretted.
A teary-eyed McRae told the jury, “I drove the car to a location on the other side of the levee... to the batture side and drove the car as far as I could drive it. I lit a flare then threw it in the car. I wasn’t going to let it rot."
Scheuermann denied having a role in burning Glover’s body, telling the jury he had no idea McRae was going to set the car on fire, and when McRae fired a bullet into the car, Scheuermann asked McRae what he was doing.
“He said, ‘I need to get air in the car.’ He kept going on about the bodies, the decay,” Scheuermann said.
Scheuermann later said about McRae, “It was obvious he had serious issues with the storm. He looked exhausted. I said, ‘Go to bed.’”
False Police Report
McCabe, who was accused of writing a bogus police report and lying to the FBI, was the last defendant to testify. Telling the jury that he assisted Sgt. Purnella Simmons in preparing the "use of force" report, he said he used information from discussions with Warren and Howard.
"Were you trying to cover up the actions of a fellow officer?” Defense attorney Allyn Stroud asked McCabe.
McCabe replied: "No sir."
Under cross examination, McCabe insisted that he didn’t falsify the report.
During his testimony, Italiano told the jury he was aware that Warren had fired his weapon, but that he did not realize it was connected to a burned body and the car found behind the levee in Algiers after Katrina.
“When we were notified, there was a body in the car, we didn’t think there was a connection,” Italiano said.
Additionally, Italiano said he didn’t draw a connection between Warren’s weapon discharge to the burned car to three men who drove up to Habans Elementary after the storm in William Tanner’s Malibu.
“There is a number of things I should have done differently,” Italiano said. “Maybe I should have talked to those three individuals myself.”
He, like McCabe, said he didn’t falsify a police report.
But Simmons testified that the police report was falsified. She also admitted that she had lied to the grand jury.
On the day of the shooting, Simmons came to the Algiers strip mall, responding to a call for help from Howard. “She (Howard) was saying, ‘He just shot somebody. He just shot somebody,” said Simmons on the witness stand, and described Warren as “almost nonchalant.”
Simmons said she went to Habans, where she saw Tanner’s white Malibu and Glover was in the back of the car.
Simmons testified she told Italiano that Warren had fired his weapon, and she thought the men at the school might be related to the shooting. Italiano denied that charge, according to Simmons.
“He (Italiano) said they were the same. As I walked away, I said, ‘Okay, I’ll go write a report,” Simmons testified. “He said, ‘No.”
Months later, however, according to Simmons, Italiano asked her to write a report on Warren’s firing of his weapon.
Later, Simmons said she learned that her police report had been replaced with a “fabrication,” but said that she lied about its authenticity to the grand jury.
She told the grand jury that she had written the fabricated police report because “I couldn’t see my way around it,” she testified.
Simmons retired from the NOPD just this past Monday.