Former NOPD officer David Warren, the cop who killed an unarmed Henry Glover outside a Westbank strip mall just days after Hurricane Katrina and was sentenced to almost 26 years in 2010, was released from prison last month after a mostly white jury found him not guilty.
Warren was granted a new trial by a three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after his attorneys argued that the U.S. Attorney’s Office improperly lumped his first trial with that of four other NOPD officers charged in the racially explosive case.
Two of the four other officers — former NOPD Lt. Robert Italiano and former Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann — were acquitted during the first trial and the two others, Travis McCabe and Greg McRae, were also granted new trials and are waiting for their day in court.
Henry Glover, 31, was shot by Warren while standing in the parking lot of a Westbank strip mall with a relative. After he was shot, a good Samaritan gave Glover a ride to an elementary school in Algiers that was being used by the New Orleans Police Department as a substation, hoping that police might provide medical assistance to the injured man. William Tanner, the good Samaritan, testified during the first trial that he and several other residents were roughed up by the cops after they arrived at the substation and that they were separated from Glover. That was the last time Henry Glover was seen alive.
Glover’s charred remains were later found in the burned car owned by William Tanner that was abandoned on the Mississippi River levee. While photos show Glover’s remains in the car, the victim’s skull was subsequently removed from the grisly crime scene and has never been returned to the family for proper burial.
During testimony, David Warren told jurors that he thought Glover had a gun and feared for his safety.
After Warren’s account of what happened during the exchange with Henry Glover, Rebecca Glover, the victim’s aunt, told reporters outside the federal courthouse that she was not at all moved by Warren’s remarks about empathizing with the Glover family because he has children.
Glover also accused the former NOPD officer of lying on the witness stand.
The jury, comprised of nine whites and three Blacks, deliberated for about 14 hours before reaching a decision. The jury was initially comprised of eight whites and four Blacks but one of the Black jurors wa reportedly removed from the jury for allegedly talking about the case on social media and replaced with one of the four white alternate jurors.
The jury reportedly told U.S. District Judge Lance Afrik that it was experiencing a deadlock, prompting the judge who presided over the first Henry Glover trial to utilize what is known as the Allen or “Dynamite” charge, which is used to help the jury to reach a verdict.
“It was surprisingly quick in terms of a verdict,” former U.S. Attorney Harry Rosenberg told WWL-TV. “They kept on saying there’s tension in the room, there’s a deadlock in the room. He gave them the Allen charge, bam, within minutes they came back with the unanimous verdict.”
After the verdict was read, Henry Glover’s mother, Edna Glover, sobbed as she left the courthouse.
“He is going to take care of him. The Lord is going to take care of him,” Edna Glover said outside the federal courthouse, “My baby, he killed him and got away. It’s wrong.”
“And you are going to walk free? That’s alright because somebody is going to do you. You’re going to get yours back,” Rebecca Glover said. “He wasn’t supposed to take my nephew’s life.”
“What justice? We don’t have justice in this city man,” Rebecca Glover told a reporter after the verdict was read.
“I am thankful to the jury who did their job so thoroughly and I truly appreciate the work that they put forth,” David Warren told reporters.
“It’s a wonderful; joyous feeling, but I’m almost numb at the same time,” Warren said.
“It’s been 3.5 years, and I think enjoying my family, hugging my kids; the kids, they weren’t supposed to grow while Daddy was gone,” Warren said while sitting next to his attorneys and his wife moments after being acquitted.
“First and foremost, my sympathy and condolences go out to the Glover family,” W.C. Johnson, a member of Community United for Change and host of local cable-access show “OurStory,” told The Louisiana Weekly. “No one knows the weight or the pain of being forced through a reoccurring life-and-death drama for eight years like the Glover family. The emotional rollercoaster ride has been unjust and uncalled for. If the Glover family were white and the police officer was Black, there would have been a state trial the first year with a life sentence affixed to the closing of the case. I salute and applaud the family’s strength and fortitude in publicly weathering this storm.
“With that being said, there is no question that this was a high- tech racial lynching of the rights, privileges and protection of the Black family, the Black community and the Black people of America under the color of law,” Johnson said. “The U.S. government orchestrated the loudest message for deprivation of rights since Chief Justice Roger B. Taney declared ‘The Negro has no rights which the white man is bound to respect.’ These are the words of the Chief Justice of the U,S. Supreme Court in March of 1857, a decision handing down the Dred Scott v. Sanford case. Justice Taney precluded the language of a slave, from which the case was addressing; but rather included the language Negro, which addresses the people as opposed to the category or standing of the issue. It is most unfortunate that Black Leadership will not or cannot address the core of racial problems in America. The Glover case is a prime example of ‘The Negro has no rights which the white man is bound to respect.’”
Residents seemed to be divided along racial lines about the role race played in the shooting of Henry Glover and last month’s not guilty verdict.
“If you’re Black, there’s no justice,” Denise Smith, a Black New Orleans resident, told The Associated Press. “They got it wrong again. He killed somebody, and he should have gotten time. Period.”
White New Orleans resident Angel Michael expressed doubt that race was a factor in the shooting. “During Katrina, everybody was scared, and everybody was wary, even the policemen,” Michael, told The Associated Press. “It didn’t matter what color you were in that time.”
Michael told AP that the cover-up after Glover was shot was what bothered her the most.
“That took the situation to a whole other level,” Michael said. “Burning the body and everything, that was really disturbing.”
“Many, including myself, feel that it was just cold-blooded murder,” Danatus King, president of the New Orleans Branch of the NAACP, told WDSU News.“There’s a whole lot of anger out here and frustration that the system doesn’t work,” King added.
“What happened to Henry Glover and those unarmed people shot and killed on the Danziger Bridge eight years ago is pure, unadulterated genocide,” the Rev. Raymond Brown, a community activist and president of National Action Now, told The Louisiana Weekly. “There is no excuse for how they were slaughtered by these cops or for the sloppy way the criminal justice system handled these cases. They literally aided and abetted these homicidal cops and let them get away with murder. This verdict, like the decisions to reopen the Henry Glover and Danziger cases, is a gross miscarriage of justice.
“There is no reason to believe, especially after cops killed Justin Sipp and Wendell Allen, that the NOPD and its gun-slinging thugs will stop killing innocent Black people,” Brown added. “Nor is there any reason to believe that the Justice Department is serious about cleaning up this corrupt and abusive police force or that the NOPD consent decree will have any kind of positive outcome. This case and the Danziger case show the lengths to which the powers that be will go to maintain control of New Orleans, even if that means abusing the constitutional rights of a large segment of the populace.”
Pointing to the cases of Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander among others, Johnson said, “There is a continuous flow of court decisions that firmly move the progress of the Civil Rights achievements years backwards into a counterproductive corner. Equal protection under the law has become an elusive constitutional right along with the protection and privilege inclusions the families of Henry Glover, Adolph Grimes III, James Brissette and Ronald Madison thought they had in expecting justice for their loved ones. It has been a bad day for New Orleans and a blemish on Louisiana. But in a historical context, it has been race relations as usual.”
“So much for justice,” Ramessu Merriamen Aha, a former congressional candidate and New Orleans businessman, told The Louisiana Weekly. “Some of us had hoped that things were going to finally turn around in New Orleans and that Black people in New Orleans might someday get to experience justice and equal protection under the law, but it’s clear that that’s not going to happen anytime soon. The Henry Glover and Danziger cases were clearly compromised by federal prosecutors and the mayor and police chief are fighting the Justice Department efforts to implement the NOPD consent decree.”
“The freeing of David Warren will impact the NOPD, the city administration and the implementation of the NOPD consent decree negatively,” Johnson told The Louisiana Weekly. “As the NOPD officers have shown for more than a century, they have nothing to fear when beating or killing a Black person. The political administration has their back, the community leadership stands tall for the men in blue, and now the federal authorities have consummated a sick relationship with the group of criminals they once identified as participants in a culture of corruption. This indicates a meeting of the minds that sets the tone for business to reopen as usual. If the people refuse to stand up in mass, constitutional policing is a dream that could have been.”
Kenneth Polite Jr., the recently installed U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, issued a statement after the verdict was read that said, “While we are disappointed by the verdict, we thank the jury members for their attentive service in reaching a decision in this matter.”
“Unless the people of New Orleans have a short memory or are brain-damaged, it would be suicidal to believe the killing fields of New Orleans for the NOPD will stop,” Johnson told The Louisiana Weekly.
Additional reporting by Louisiana Weekly editor Edmund W. Lewis.
This article originally published in the December 16, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.