BENDING TOWARD JUSTICE: On June 11 US Attorney Jim Letten announced the indictment of three New Orleans police officers and two former officers in the shooting death of Henry Glover, an African-American resident of New Orleans who bled to death while in police custody in the days after Hurricane Katrina struck. One of the former officers, David Warren, was charged with shooting Glover to death, according to the indictment. If convicted, he could face the death penalty, the Times-Picayune reports.
After Glover was shot outside a shuttered Chuck E. Cheese in the neighborhood of Algiers, his brother and two passers-by came to his aid, driving him to a temporary police base that had been set up at a local grade school. There, two of these good Samaritans were beaten up while Glover bled to death nearby. Glover’s body was later found inside a torched car that had belonged to William Tanner, one of his would-be rescuers.
The indictment charges Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann and Officer Gregory McRae with civil rights violations for these assaults and with destruction of evidence for burning Tanner’s car with Glover’s remains inside. Lt. Travis McCabe and former Lt. Robert Italiano were charged with obstructing a federal investigation for altering and concealing documents and covering up evidence related to Glover’s death. Italiano and McCabe also face perjury charges.
Glover’s suspicious death was first reported in The Nation as part of a lengthy investigation by A.C. Thompson, in collaboration with the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute, into vigilante attacks that took place in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. (ProPublica provided additional support.) Thompson’s work has been recognized with the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism; the Molly National Journalism Prize, named in honor of the late Molly Ivins; and the top magazine honor of the 2009 Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards. Thompson was also a finalist for the 2010 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
When Thompson was reporting the story in 2007 and 2008, Tanner’s torched vehicle was still sitting, abandoned, on an earthen levee overlooking the Mississippi River. A forensic pathologist who examined Glover’s remains told Thompson, "My first reaction was that it was a homicide." Amid the charred bones and ash were metal fragments, which might have been the remnants of a bullet; the burned remains struck the pathologist as a likely attempt to cover up the crime. But after what appears to have been a cursory inquiry, Orleans Parish coroner Frank Minyard ruled the death "unclassified." The Nation Institute had to sue Minyard to obtain Glover’s autopsy report. The NOPD had never even opened an investigation.
"If the NOPD ever bothers to learn who set fire to Glover," Thompson wrote in "Body of Evidence" (January 5, 2009), "the department’s first step should be questioning its own personnel: a trail of clues leads right back to the police force." Eric Holder‘s Justice Department has spent a year connecting those dots.
Henry Glover was a father of four and is mourned by a large extended family. "We want justice done," his sister Patrice told Thompson in late 2008, tears in her eyes. "We wanna know who did it." ESTHER KAPLAN