A federal grand jury handed down new language in an indictment of a former New Orleans police officer for a fatal shooting and cover-up in the days after Hurricane Katrina. The updated charge for ex-cop David Warren accuses him of shooting Henry Glover with "an attempt to kill."
Back on September 2, 2005, Glover was shot in New Orleans. According to the feds' original indictment, when a good Samaritan named William Tanner found Glover and drove him over to a nearby school that had been commandeered by SWAT officers, instead of receiving help and aid, the police officers beat up Tanner, stole his car and drove away with Glover's body in the back seat. Three months later, Tanner found his car charred and gutted, stuck in the mud of a levee out back behind a New Orleans police department station. A man's burnt remains inside the car were eventually identified as Henry Glover's.
And according to federal indictments, since then NOPD cops engaged in a massive cover-up involving multiple police officers and city officials. Last week, the Department of Justice, which is running eight separate investigations into NOPD misconduct, announced it will not seek the death penalty against Warren. Four other police officers have been charged with obstructing justice in the Henry Glover incident and they are set to be arraigned on August 19 with their new charges.
The Times-Picayune sat down with Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ. Perez said that the federal investigation was the largest of its kind; about a dozen DOJ attorneys and just as many law enforcement experts had been assigned to the case. Their task is to examine the inner workings of the NOPD, from mundane command-staff meetings to hiring practices. The DOJ started its "pattern and practices" inquiry into potential civil rights violations in May; the criminal investigations into police misconduct, especially in the days right after Hurricane Katrina, are coming from a separate DOJ department.
The DOJ investigation, which New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu requested, is expected to lead to a consent decree between the federal government and the local police department. Perez said the NOPD had been "100 percent" cooperative with the investigation.
"We are still very much in what I call the diagnostic phase," Perez told the Times-Picayune. "If we wanted to do this superficially, we could be done this week or the week after. But that is not the goal. The key here is sustainable reforms."
Still, there are many buried, unreported incidents of brutality and misconduct that don't rise to the surface. Mystery, and that most elusive police accountability, continue to surround so many post-Katrina incidents.