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More NOPD officers charged in post-Katrina shooting death, cover-up

By Jesse Muhammad -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Jul 1, 2010 - 2:56:36 PM

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(FinalCall.com) - Two former and three current New Orleans police officers were recently charged by a federal grand jury in the death of Black male Henry Glover. According to a U.S. Attorney, the charcoaled remains of Mr. Glover were found in a burned car by a river in Algiers just days following Hurricane Katrina.

“The charges are in connection with the shooting of Henry Glover, a civilian, on September 2nd in Algiers by a police officer, the burning of his body in a vehicle and other civil rights and other obstruction of justice offenses,” said U.S. Attorney Jim Letten in a press conference on June 11 outside the federal courthouse.

He announced that a federal grand jury returned an 11-count indictment against former cops David Warren and Robert Italiano along with current cops Travis McCabe, Dwayne Scheuermann, and Greg McRae. All of the officers pleaded not guilty on June 17. According to Mr. Letten, Mr. Warren was charged with shooting and killing Mr. Glover and has been taken into custody. Mr. Scheuermann and Mr. McRae were charged with assaulting civilians who attempted to help Mr. Glover. The two also were charged for burning up the body of Mr. Glover, the destruction of the vehicle that housed Mr. Glover's body and obstructing a federal investigation. Mr. Italiano's and Mr. McCabe's charges included obstructing a federal investigation and making false statements to a grand jury.

If convicted, Mr. Letten said Mr. Warren faces life in prison. Mr. Sheuermann and Mr. McRae face up to 60 years, if convicted on all counts.

New Orleans community activist Wes Johnson sees this as the manifestation of a “systemic culture of police corruption” that has plagued the city for decades.

“This didn't happen overnight. This entire department has been doing this to Black people since the Civil War. It is becoming harder for these criminal justice professionals to hide the corruptness of the system, but it's not just the police department. It's the judges, the district attorneys, and coroners who have historically played a major role in this criminal behavior,” Mr. Johnson told The Final Call.

Mr. Johnson is a co-coordinator of the grassroots organization Community United for Change. They recently held their third public hearing on June 17, providing an opportunity for citizens to give recorded testimonies of their encounters with the police. Stories varying from police shootings to brutality have been documented and delivered in DVD format to the local offices of the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

“We hope the justice department will intensely investigate the Police Association of New Orleans which I believe is a Klu Klux Klan organization. They take well-trained officers and remold them into renegades who attack Blacks,” said Mr. Johnson.

“We want the justice department to know that we will not be satisfied with a surface level investigation. If they are coming here to New Orleans just to put a ‘band-aid' on this, that is not going to solve the problems,” said Willie Muhammad of Muhammad Mosque No. 46.

“Somebody was trying to cover up that person's death”

According to a recent interview with a Louisiana news station, William Tanner was the owner of the car in which Mr. Glover's body was found. Mr. Tanner reportedly picked up Mr. Glover and his brother after Mr. Glover suffered gunshot wounds on September 2, 2005 in Algiers.

“I seen him on the street bleeding to death, and I thought I might could save his life,” Mr. Tanner said in the interview posted online.

Mr. Tanner said he took Mr. Glover to a nearby elementary school where police officers had set up a makeshift command center. Mr. Tanner said suddenly nine officers pulled their guns on him, placed all three men in handcuffs and left Mr. Glover in the backseat of the car. Mr. Tanner said he was unjustly accused of committing a crime and beaten by officers.

Mr. Tanner's burned Chevrolet Malibu was later found by private investigator Michael Orsini. “The skull looked like it had a bullet hole penetration, but I'm no expert on that. The remains were skeletal remains with a little flesh that was just burned right down to the bone. It had to be a man-made fire I believe in some way. Somebody was trying to cover up that person's death in some way,” Mr. Orsini said in an interview.

Community United for Change will be hosting three more hearings with the final one scheduled in August.

“We're receiving an overwhelming response from the community, and Carmalita Toe-Freeman of the justice department was in attendance for our last hearing. We've had some very intense stories shared,” said Mr. Johnson.

Related news:

Second ex-cop pleads guilty to covering up deadly New Orleans shooting (FCN, 03-24-2010)

A victory for Katrina flood survivors? (FCN, 11-25-2009)

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