Ex-cop seeks new judge in his retrial
5th February 2013 · 0 Comments
A former New Orleans police officer asked a federal judge Monday to disqualify himself from presiding over his retrial on charges he fatally shot a man without justification in Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath before the man’s body was burned in a car, The Associated Press reported last week.
A court filing by lawyers for the former NOPD officer, David Warren, said U.S. District Judge Lance Africk made comments on the case that could call his impartiality into question.
During Warren’s sentencing, Africk said Warren’s testimony about his shooting of Henry Glover, 31, was “contrived and fabricated.’’
“For you to suggest … that Glover caused you to fear for your life by feigning the fact that he had a weapon in his hand is farcical,’’ the judge said. “Henry Glover was not at the strip mall to commit suicide. He was there to retrieve some baby clothing.’’
In another instance, Africk said, “The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office can be commended for unmasking your deceit.’’
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial for Warren last month, ruling that Africk should have separated his trial from four other officers charged in Glover’s 2005 death.
Unlike the other officers, two of whom were acquitted at trial, Warren wasn’t charged with participating in a cover-up of Glover’s death. The 5th Circuit judges agreed with Warren’s argument that the “spillover effect’’ from other evidence unrelated to the shooting, including the burning of Glover’s body, prevented him from getting a fair trial.
Africk recently set a March 18 trial for Warren, who was a rookie when prosecutors say he shot Glover on Sept. 2, 2005. He sentenced Warren to more than 25 years in prison for the shooting outside the strip mall.
“Isn’t it amazing that more than 150 years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation and a half century after the Historic Civil Rights Movement, there are still cops of all races running around in New Orleans and other cities who think they have the right to gun down unarmed Black people,” Ramessu Merriamen Aha, a New Orleans-born businessman and former congressional candidate, told The Louisiana Weekly. “With New Orleans police gunning down Black people whenever they feel like it, City Hall pretending that it doesn’t know what’s going on, a former U.S. Attorney who prides himself on being an effective prosecutor first dragging his feet in these NOPD murder cases before mishandling the trials and a Department of Justice that refuses to give the City of New Orleans and the NOPD what it needs to get better — a complete overhaul — it’s not a good time to be Black in New Orleans.
“We need to seriously consider taking our case as Black people back to the United Nations and charge the DOJ, U.S. Attorney’s Office, NOPD and the City of New Orleans with violating our human rights,” Ramessu Merriamen Aha added.
In a recent interview with The Louisiana Weekly, W.C. Johnson, host of local cable-access show “OurStory” and a member of Community United for Change, said that the U.S. Department of Justice must be held accountable for its failure to protect the citizens of New Orleans and their constitutional rights.
“After more than two years of working directly with the U.S. Department of Justice, face-to- face meetings with Tom Perez and Roy Austin, I am perplexed as to why the DOJ has not addressed the serious issues of a totally corrupt criminal justice system,” Johnson told The Louisiana Weekly. “After witnessing the charade of an ongoing Consent Decree process, I am not sure if the DOJ is serious or just wants to cut their losses.
“In the more than two years CUC worked with DOJ, many groups and individuals alerted DOJ to the unethical and illegal activities the NOPD was involved in. From the DOJ’s own Findings Letter (prelude to Consent Decree) it was evident that police corruption was allowed to exist because of a corrupted criminal justice system covering for the NOPD. Federal court and the DOJ’s amazement at the behavior of the Landrieu Administration’s efforts to derail the Consent Decree after agreeing to the Consent Decree is the historical legacy of the City of New Orleans. With all of the work the DOJ has done in New Orleans over the past two years, I don’t know what could possibly jumpstart Attorney General Eric Holder into a different posture than all of the data and documentation he already possesses. If I had to sum up the work of the DOJ over the past two years, I would have to say; politics as usual.”
“Just because there hasn’t been a violent racial explosion like you’ve seen in other cities here doesn’t mean that there will never be,” the Rev. Raymond Brown, president and founder of National Action Now, told The Louisiana Weekly. “There is a lot of rage and frustration among the Black masses in New Orleans about the Landrieu administration’s refusal to address the needs and concerns of the poorest among us. That’s a recipe for disaster and conflict.
“All parties involved in efforts to clean up the NOPD and protect the rights of civilians need to come together and have a frank discussion about the challenges this city faces and devise a strategy for protecting the constitutional rights of everyone who lives in New Orleans, not just white people or politically connected residents.”
*Additional reporting by Louisiana Weekly editor Edmund W. Lewis.
This article was originally published in the February 4, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper