Body of Evidence | The Nation


Body of Evidence

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I've been able to reconstruct the final hours of Henry Glover's life from interviews with two eyewitnesses. On September 2, 2005, Glover was walking with his friend Bernard Calloway behind a shuttered Chuck E. Cheese pizza place in a run-down strip mall in the Algiers section of New Orleans. Suddenly, there was a shout--"Get out of here!"--followed by the crack of a single gunshot. The bullet pierced Glover's chest.

About the Author

A.C. Thompson
A.C. Thompson is an award-­winning journalist on the staff of ProPublica

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A federal jury found three New Orleans police officers guilty in the shooting, burning and cover-up of the death of Henry Glover. Two officers were acquitted.

Television news reports are casting new light on the violence that
flourished in New Orleans in the anarchic days after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

As Glover bled, Calloway ran and got Glover's brother, Edward King, who was at an apartment complex nearby. King tells me neither he nor Calloway saw the shooter, and he doesn't know why the crime went down. But King knows what happened next: he and Calloway began desperately searching for someone with a car who could drive Glover to a hospital.

When William Tanner came rolling down Seine Street in his white 2002 Chevrolet Malibu, King rushed into the road and pleaded with him to stop. A middle-aged junkyard helper and lawn mower repairman, Tanner didn't know King or the others, but he could see Glover needed immediate medical attention. "We picked [Glover] up and put him in the car," Tanner recalls. "He was still breathing. We thought he might have a fair chance of surviving."

Tanner says he made a snap decision that the nearest hospital--the West Jefferson Medical Center--was too far away and chose instead to drive Glover to Paul B. Habans Elementary School, a public school that had been commandeered by the New Orleans Police Department tactical unit, or SWAT team, for use as a temporary base. The police, Tanner thought, would know how to help the wounded man; at the very least, they'd be able to get him an ambulance. But when Tanner pulled his car into the school's semicircular driveway, things turned out very differently: rather than rushing to aid Glover, the officers treated everyone in the vehicle with hostility, according to Tanner and King.

"They put guns in our faces," says Tanner. He suspects the police "assumed [Glover] was looting and that's why he got shot. They assumed we were looters, too."

King tells me he frantically tried to get the officers to help Glover: "I was hollering, saying, 'My brother's shot!' They handcuffed us. I said, 'You're not worrying about my brother.' They said some bad words to us and started beating us. They were beating us for twenty minutes." Tanner and King say that they, along with Calloway, were seated on a bench and cuffed while a swarm of officers punched, slapped and berated them. One of the officers bludgeoned Tanner in the face with the butt of an assault rifle, they say. "Every time I'd look up or sit up, they'd beat me," King tells me, noting that about five officers, all of them white, participated in the beating.

Meanwhile, in the back seat of the car, Glover, a father of four, was sliding toward death as blood poured from his wound, according to King and Tanner. Both men insist the officers did nothing to try to save Glover, despite his obvious injury, and both firmly believe that Glover died that day in Tanner's Chevy.

When the officers finally decided to free the men, they held on to Tanner's car, Tanner and King say. Tanner recalls one officer saying, "The car is in police custody. It's under investigation," and yanking his jumper cables, Stanley toolbox and gas can out of the Chevy, while a second officer got into the car and drove away with Glover's body slumped in the back. Poking out of a pocket on the driver's dark cargo pants were two emergency flares, Tanner remembers.

Immediately after the incident, Tanner phoned his wife, who'd evacuated to Houston. "When William contacted me he told me they'd beaten him," Catrina Tanner, a state worker with the Louisiana Department of Social Services, recalls. "He was upset. He kept telling me that I wouldn't believe what was going on, that police were killing people." She continues, "He said the police drove off [in his car] towards the levee."

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