NEW ORLEANS -- Orleans Parish Coroner Frank Minyard is requesting help from the state attorney general in re-investigating the death of Henry Glover, the man shot by a New Orleans police officer in the days after Katrina.
In a letter to Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, Minyard is seeking legal help in obtaining testimony from the two trials of ex-patrolman David Warren.
Warren admitted firing at Glover with a single – and presumably fatal – shot from his assault rifle, but the officer was acquitted in federal court last month after his 2010 civil rights conviction and 25-year sentence were reversed on appeal.
Minyard originally classified Glover’s death as “undetermined” due to a lack of forensic evidence. After Glover was shot, his body was burned inside of the car of a man who picked up the bleeding and dying man, only to have another group of police officers incinerate the car with Glover’s body inside.
By the time coroner’s office got the case, Glover’s remains were nothing but a bag of charred bones, Minyard said.
“I have now been asked to reassess the situation and consider testimony from numerous witnesses who testified at two federal court trials,” Minyard wrote. “I have consulted with several experienced attorneys as to how I should proceed. They are unable to instruct me because this situation has never occurred before, so there is no precedent.”
Last month, Minyard agreed to re-open his investigation into Glover’s death after the Glover family and civil rights activists staged a rowdy protest at the Coroner's Office days after Warren was acquitted.
Standing in front of about 50 protestors, Edna Glover, the victim’s mother, pleaded with Minyard, “I need justice. He killed my son. He needs to be in jail for it.”
After ushering the family into his office, Minyard announced on the spot that he would re-open the case to try to pinpoint the cause of death.
The family and NAACP said classifying the death as a homicide would help their appeal to Distinct Attorney Leon Cannizzaro to consider a state murder charge against Warren in light of his acquittal. At both federal trials, Warren admitted shooting at Glover from the second-floor balcony of a strip mall, but testified that he fired because he feared for his life.
Minyard said re-classifying Glover’s death is complicated by the fact that his remains did not allow for a proper autopsy to pinpoint a gunshot wound or internal injuries that may have been caused by a bullet.
Minyard said he requested help from FBI, but was told that the trial transcripts have been sealed. That led him to turn to Caldwell for advice.
“If the attorney general decides I should take this new evidence into consideration, I will do so,” Minyard wrote in a press release. “If the evidence shows that this is a homicide, I will take the appropriate action and change my classification.”
The officer who torched Glover’s body, Gregory McCrae, is serving a 17-year prison sentence after being convicted of violating Glover’s civil rights. Another officer, Travis McCabe, is awaiting a re-trial on charges that he wrote a false police report to cover up the actions of his fellow officers.
McCabe was found guilty at the 2010 trial, but that conviction was thrown out along with Warren’s on grounds that the men should have been tried separately.