It’s been eight years since New Orleans police officers killed
Henry Glover and incinerated his
body, leaving his charred remains in a scorched Chevy Malibu parked on the
edge of the Mississippi River. There have been two criminal trials, an
extensive federal probe, a state police investigation, and countless news
And now, after all that, it seems entirely possible that only a single law
enforcement figure will be held criminally accountable in connection with
Glover’s slaying and the desecration of his corpse.
On Wednesday, a
federal jury acquitted a former police officer, David Warren, of unlawfully
shooting Glover with an assault rifle during the harrowing days after Hurricane
Katrina ripped through the city. Warren, 50, took the stand during the
trial, testifying that he fired at Glover from the second floor of a strip mall
because he believed Glover was armed and liable to attack him. (No weapon
linked to Glover has ever been discovered.)
The legality of such shootings hinges on “reasonable belief.” An officer
can squeeze the trigger if he or she has reasonably concluded that they are
facing a person who poses a serious physical threat. Warren’s statements,
it appears, helped to convince jurors that he acted lawfully, and after some 14
hours of deliberations they cleared him of violating Glover’s civil rights and
using a firearm in the commission of crime.
This was Warren’s second time facing a jury. In late 2010, he was tried for the
same offenses. During that initial trial, he was flanked by four other
officers charged in connection with Glover’s death and a series of grisly
narratives spilled out in the courtroom. There were allegations that
officers physically attacked and terrorized three men who tried to save
Glover’s life. There were allegations that cops engineered a cover up of the
That first jury convicted Warren of illegally shooting Glover and a judge
handed him a 25-year prison sentence. Greg McRae, who admitted to torching
Glover’s body, was hit with a 17-year prison term. Travis McCabe was
found guilty of sanitizing a police report about the shooting and misleading
During the initial trial, the jury acquitted two other veteran cops.
For federal prosecutors, who have spent years seeking to identify and punish
corrupt cops in a city with a multi-decade history of horrific police
misconduct, the first round of verdicts represented a significant victory.
But it all quickly began unraveling. A judge overturned McCabe’s conviction
when he produced fresh evidence suggesting he may not have altered the police
report in any meaningful way. Then a federal appeals court ruled in Warren’s
favor, concluding that he should have been tried separately from his former
colleagues. The appellate decision set the stage for Warren’s second trial and
his acquittal Wednesday.
McCabe – a former lieutenant who has been fighting to get his job at the
police department back – is currently slated to stand trial for a second
time early next year.
That leaves McRae, a burly former SWAT cop, who is appealing his conviction, as
well. (He’s already had success in getting one relatively minor civil rights
charge tossed.) At this juncture, McRae is the lone individual dwelling in a
federal prison cell.