Michael Kunzelman / The Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS -- A Wisconsin congressman is supporting a former New Orleans police officer's bid to be freed from prison while he awaits a retrial on charges he shot and killed a man without justification outside a strip mall in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath.
In a letter dated March 11, Rep. Reid Ribble urged U.S. District Judge Lance Africk to set bond for David Warren, who was convicted by a jury in 2010 of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of 31-year-old Henry Glover. A different officer was convicted of burning Glover's body in a car as part of a cover-up that didn't involve Warren.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a retrial for Warren in December, ruling he should have been tried separately from four other officers charged in Glover's 2005 death.
Warren lived in Ribble's northeastern Wisconsin district before moving to New Orleans and joining the police department nearly a decade ago. Ribble, a Republican, said in his letter to Africk that he visited Warren in a South Carolina prison after constituents contacted him to express concern about Warren's "situation."
Ribble said Warren is regarded as a "law-abiding citizen" and devoted family man who isn't a flight risk or danger to the community. Warren's wife and five children still live in the New Orleans area.
"I respectfully urge you to give consideration to David Warren's outstanding reputation while he resided in Wisconsin and urge that he be released on bond," Ribble wrote.
Africk has given Warren's lawyers until Monday to file additional material in support of their bond request. The judge indicated he will rule without a hearing on the matter.
Warren has remained in federal custody since his 2010 indictment. One of the charges he faced carries a maximum sentence of life in prison or the death sentence, but the Justice Department declined to seek the latter in Warren's case.
Warren's attorneys said he knew he could face a long prison sentence or possibly the death penalty even before he was charged.
"If Mr. Warren was the type of person who would flee to avoid prosecution, that would have been the time when he would have done so," his lawyers wrote in court filing last month. "Yet Mr. Warren stayed home to face the charges that he knew were coming -- and a harrowing trial that followed. Mr. Warren will once again stay home to aid in his defense and prove his innocence."
Prosecutors have urged Africk to keep Warren behind bars, arguing there are "no conditions of release that will assure his appearance and protect the community."
"The defendant has not presented any new and material information that would entitle him to reopen the detention hearing in this case," they wrote.
Africk had sentenced Warren to more than 25 years in prison before the 5th Circuit reversed his convictions. His retrial is scheduled to start on Aug. 26.
Warren, a rookie patrol officer when Katrina struck, was guarding a police substation at the mall less than a week after Katrina's landfall when Glover and a friend pulled up in a truck. Warren testified that Glover and the friend ran toward a gate that would have given them access to the building and ignored commands to stop.
Warren said he thought Glover had a gun and posed a threat when he shot him with an assault rifle from a second-floor balcony. Prosecutors said Glover wasn't armed and accused Warren of shooting him in the back.