Glover family now locked out of coroner’s office
23rd December 2013 · 0 Comments
Four days after a large group of activists showed up at the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office in support of the family of NOPD shooting victim Henry Glover, the family and a smaller group of community activists and supporters were locked out of that same office.
The lockout occurred Friday morning, December 20, as members of the Glover family and about 25 community activists, civil rights leaders and supporters gathered at the coroner’s office to pick up documents Orleans Parish Coroner Dr. Frank Minyard promised to give them at an unscheduled Dec. 16 meeting.
Less than a week after a federal jury acquitted a former NOPD officer in the fatal shooting of Henry Glover, the victim’s family was back on the battlefield, taking their fight for justice to the Orleans Parish coroner and district attorney.
Warren was convicted by a federal jury three years ago and sentenced to 26 years behind bars but was granted a new trial by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which decided that he should have been tried separate from the other officers involved in the case.
Joined by community activists, civil rights leaders and residents on Monday morning, December 16,, the Glover family showed up at the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office demanding a meeting with Dr. Frank Minyard to talk about the classification of Henry Glover’s death. The family is seeking to have the coroner classify the death as a homicide so that the Orleans Parish district attorney can press charges against former NOPD officer David Warren, the cop who shot Glover in the parking lot of a Westbank strip mall eight years ago.
After coroner’s office employees resisted initials efforts by the Glover family and others to enter the building, the group forced its way into the Coroner’s Office and demanded a meeting with Minyard.
The cops were called in to disperse the crowd and one of the officers pleaded with the crowd for orderly behavior. He asked the crowd to leave but the Glover family refused. Eventually, Minyard agreed to meet with the Glover family and some of their supporters. After answering a series of questions about his examination of Henry Glover’s remains, Minyard agreed to re-open the case and look at evidence collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Glover’s death is currently classified as “undetermined.”
“These people have been through a lot and they deserve something.” Minyard said Monday.
“I’m on their side. I know it doesn’t look like it to them, but I really am,” he added.
“Thank you,” Edna Glover, the victim’s mother, said after being told that Minyard would reopen the case.
Henry Glover’s aunt, Rebecca Glover, said the family was “feeling a little bit better” after hearing Minyard would reopen the case, “because this really should’ve been changed. When I came, I didn’t know if he was going to meet with us or not. I want the truth because it was a homicide.
“This gives us a little more hope that I can bring — that we can bring — David Warren up on murder charges,” Rebecca Glover added.
Dr. Minyard said that it would take a week to 10 days for him to review information related to Henry Glover’s death before he could make a determination regarding the classification of his death.
The Glover family’s gratitude turned to anger and frustration on Friday, Dec. 20, when they showed up with about 25 supporters to collect documents promised to them by Minyard. The doors to the office were locked this time and NOPD officers had been called in to maintain law and order.
“Last week Mrs. Glover gave a general call to the people of New Orleans to escort her to the Coroner’s Office to request a change in the classification for cause of death for her son Henry Glover,” W.C. Johnson a member of Community United for Change and host of local cable-access show “OurStory,” told The Louisiana Weekly before Friday’s lockout. “The support was overwhelming and clearly the Black community of New Orleans is understanding the plight of the Glover family is the predicament of the Black community. I personally do not believe Frank Minyard would have entertained the Glover family if it were not for the 200-plus people who occupied Minyard’s office and his front doorstep. The energy was not only successful for the Glover family, but also good for the members of the Black community who need to see positive results from direct action.
“The city was caught off guard by the number of people who showed up and showed out in support of the Glover family,” Johnson continued.
Among those who issued a call for community activists and concerned residents to accompany the Glover family during its meeting with the coroner was attorney Danatus King, president of the New Orleans Branch of the NAACP and a mayoral candidate.
King told nola.com early last week that the large contingency that showed up Monday to support the Glover family at the coroner’s office was but “the tip of the iceberg”.
King told The Louisiana Weekly on Dec. 20 that after they were not allowed to enter the office Friday morning, he and others noticed that others were allowed to enter the building.
“Mind you, this is a public office funded by taxpayers,” King said.
At one point, an officer told King that the coroner’s office would allow two or three members of the Glover family and him to enter the building, he said. The cop was informed that the family was there to collect documents promised to them Monday by Minyard and not to meet with him. King said the cop re-entered the office and emerged a short time later with three pages from Minyard about the Henry Glover case, only a small percentage of the documents the family viewed Monday.
King said the family was appalled that Minyard would renege on his promise to release all of the documents his office had to members of the Glover family, a promise that was captured on video and aired Wednesday night on the local cable-access show “OurStory.”
While clearly disappointed by the coroner’s failure to keep his word, the Glover family and its supporters plan to return to the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office on Thursday, Dec. 26, to retrieve and review the findings of Minyard’s reopened investigation into Henry Glover’s death.
“He promised that he would share his findings in a week to 10 days and we’re going to hold him to that,” King told The Louisiana Weekly.
King said that while he will continue to support the Glover family in its struggle for justice and do whatever he can to assist them, he will step back from the spotlight in order to keep the focus on the Henry Glover case and efforts to secure justice in New Orleans.
“There’s been an effort on the part of some to pull the focus away from justice for Henry Glover and try to focus on me personally and say that this is something dealing with politics,” King told The Louisiana Weekly.
“From what I understand, the plan is to obtain the classification first before moving towards any contact with D.A. Cannizzaro’s office,” Johnson said. “This strategy places clear responsibility on the shoulders of the district attorney. We are aware that Cannizzaro has a terrible record for holding police officers responsible for illegal acts committed while acting under the color of law. Yet it is time for New Orleans’ Black community to stand and make Cannizzaro accountable to the Black community. The Black community has within its power the ability to make this happen.”
Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said last week that he would be happy to meet with the Glover family regarding the case.
Cannizzaro has been sharply criticized by a group called the Justice for Marshall Coulter Committee for not filing charges against City Hall employee Merritt Landry, a Faubourg Marigny homeowner who shot Marshall Coulter in the head when he discovered the 14-year-old standing in his yard on July 26.
Rick Simmons, one of David Warren’s defense attorneys, told nola.com last week that getting charges filed against his client will not be as easy or simple as some might think.
“You can’t keep trying a person again and again, even though it’s a different jurisdiction,” Simmons said.
Simmons suggested that rules regarding double-jeopardy, repeatedly prosecuting a defendant for the same offense, may apply in this case. He reminded nola.com that his client has already been tried for shooting Henry Glover twice — in 2010 and 2013.
“We understand the family’s grief and proceeding in the civil arena,” Simmons told nola.com, referring to a civil suit, “but to reopen a murder case — you can’t keep doing something over and over again and trying to get a different result.
“To try this a third time, it just shouldn’t be done,” Simmons added.
At least one former federal prosecutor disagreed with Simmons’ assessment of his client’s case. “Double jeopardy does not apply to a state prosecution after a federal acquittal,” Shaun Clarke, a former assistant U.S. attorney who lives in New Orleans, told nola.com. “The D.A. can indict if he chooses to do so.”
King said Friday that each resident of this city has a part to play in bringing justice to New Orleans. “All of us don’t have the same skills, all of us don’t have the same temperament, but it’s important that all of us use whatever skills, temperament and assets we have to secure justice and not become distracted,” King told The Louisiana Weekly. “We need to remain focused on the important issues. Our actions should be focused on obtaining justice for Henry Glover and his family, and in extension of that, our community… If we all have the same destination, we can make that happen.”
The Louisiana Weekly asked W.C. Johnson Thursday how significant it is that no elected official has stepped forward to voice support for the Glover family or to take steps to ensure that Black residents in New Orleans can enjoy equal protection under the law.
“It is very significant that no elected official has come forward to assist in calling for justice in the Henry Glover case,” Johnson said. “I hasten to add the same is true in the shooting of Marshall Coulter, the unarmed teenager shot and permanently disabled for trespassing. Unfortunately, New Orleans does not possess strong Black political leadership. It makes no difference what party you are affiliated with — right is right and wrong should not be tolerated. After 32 years of Black mayors in New Orleans, New Orleans does not have a strong Black political structure. And with the advent of another white mayor after the 32 years, New Orleans is in a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t posture with the new mayor as the lesser of the two being worst. New Orleans has never had a representative of the people, only a third-class seat for whatever scraps are left after the meal has been consumed.
“New Orleans is faced with some serious soul-searching in the coming mayoral race,” Johnson added. “Blacks are going to have to face reality or allow the power brokers to dictate how the elections will go. The Glover family can be a pivotal rallying point for the election of a next Black mayor. The people must sit down and examine who best can be that person. Separating emotions from qualifications and who best can serve, the Black community must mature, come together and create the criteria from which the Black community can select the right person for mayor. Short of that, there will be more Glover cases in the coming weeks and months.”
Additional reporting by Louisiana Weekly editor Edmund W. Lewis.
This article originally published in the December 23, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.