Dec 10, 2010

3 New Orleans police convicted in post-Katrina killing, burning of body

Edna Glover, center, mother of Henry Glover talks to reporters with family and supporters outside the courthouse after a jury reached a split verdict against the men (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

 

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A former New Orleans police officer was convicted Thursday of fatally shooting a man in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath and another officer was convicted of burning the man's body in a case that exposed one of the ugliest chapters in the police department's troubled history.

A federal jury also convicted a third officer of writing a false report on the deadly shooting of 31-year-old Henry Glover, but two others were acquitted of charges stemming from the alleged cover-up.

The jury of five men and seven women convicted former officer David Warren of manslaughter in Glover's death outside a mall on Sept. 2, 2005. Prosecutors said Warren shot an unarmed man in the back.

Officer Gregory McRae was convicted of burning Glover's body in a car. Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann was acquitted of that charge. Both were cleared of charges they beat the men who had brought the dying Glover to a makeshift police compound in search of help.

Lt. Travis McCabe was convicted of writing a false report on the shooting and lying to the FBI and a grand jury. Lt. Robert Italiano was cleared of charges he submitted the false report and lied to the FBI.

"This was a case that needed to be aired," U.S. District Judge Lance Africk said after the verdicts were read aloud.

Rebecca Glover, Henry's aunt, said the verdict doesn't close the case for her.

"This has been a long, anguishing time," she said. "All of them should have been found guilty. They were all in on it."

Warren, who has been in custody since his indictment earlier this year, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Prosecutors asked Africk to jail McRae and McCabe while they await sentencing. The judge set a hearing Friday on that request.

A total of 20 current or former New Orleans police officers have been charged this year in a series of Justice Department civil rights investigations. The probe of Glover's death was the first of those cases to be tried.

This isn't the first time federal authorities have tried to clean up the city's police department. The Justice Department launched a broad review of the force in the 1990s, when it was reeling from a string of lurid corruption cases. An officer, Antoinette Frank, was convicted of killing her patrol partner in a 1995 robbery. Another officer, Len Davis, was convicted of arranging the 1994 murder of Kim Groves, a woman who had filed a brutality complaint against him.

All five of the officers charged in the Glover case testified during the trial, describing the grueling, dangerous conditions they endured after the Aug. 29, 2005 storm, when thousands of desperate people were trapped in the flooded city.

Looting was rampant and bodies rotted on the streets for days because there was nowhere to take them, officers recalled. With lives on the line, the officers said they had no time to write reports or investigate anything but the most serious of crimes.

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said the jury rejected the notion that stress from Katrina was a defense for the officers' actions.

"Tonight's verdict is a critical phase in the recovery and healing of this city, of the people of this region," Letten said.

Associated Press writer Mary Foster contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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