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Judge denies ex-cop’s request for new trial

9th June 2014   ·   0 Comments

A federal judge last week rejected a request for a new trial for a former New Orleans police officer convicted of burning the body of a man killed by another officer less than a week after Hurricane Katrina.

Former NOPD officer Gregory McRae told U.S. District Judge Lance Africk Monday that he had new evidence that could have swayed a jury. He said such evidence included a federal prosecutor’s anonymous online comments about the shooting and related cases, and a psychologist’s report about his mental state after the storm in 2005.

Africk ruled Monday that McRae did not show that the verdict was undermined by the online comments.

“McRae contends that the alleged government misconduct made the difficult task of picking a jury in a highly publicized case harder,’ but he has not shown that this additional incremental difficulty impaired the fairness of the trial, that it undermined the integrity of the jury’s verdict, or that the absence of the alleged misconduct would probably result in a different verdict,” Africk wrote.

The judge said McRae’s lawyers based their defense on McRae’s mental condition, knew he had been seeing a psychologist, and could have obtained the psychologist’s reports.

A day after denying McRae’s request for a new trial, Judge Afrik set a new date for the resentencing of McRae, who is currently serving a 17-year federal sentence imposed in 2010 on charges connected to the burning of Henry Glover’s body. However an appeals court overturned one of the four counts on which he was convicted and ordered re-sentencing.

On Tuesday, the judge moved McRae’s re-sentencing date from June 19 to July 7.

The online posting scandal on Nola.com led to the resignations of former U.S. Attorney Jim Letten and two of his top federal prosecutors, Sal Perricone and Jan Mann. It also was used to overturn the convictions of five former NOPD officers involved in the Danziger Bridge shootings that left two unarmed civilians dead and four others wounded.

Henry Glover, 31, was shot by NOPD officer David Warren on Sept. 2, 2005 while standing in the parking lot of a West Bank strip mall. A good Samaritan, William Tanner, assisted Glover by giving him a ride to an Algiers school being used by cops as a makeshift station. Once there, Tanner later testified in federal court, the cops assaulted Tanner and others, separating Glover from the rest of the residents in the confusion. That was the last time Tanner saw Glover alive. Glover’s remains were later found in Tanner’s burned car on the Mississippi River levee. Photos of the grisly crime scene showed Glover’s skull in the charred vehicle but someone later removed the skull from the car. To this date, Henry Glover’s skull has not been found or returned to the family for proper burial.

The incident took place just three days after Hurricane Katrina and two days before the Danziger Bridge shootings, which left two unarmed civilians dead and four others wounded. As a result of the Nola.com online posting scandal, five former NOPD officers convicted in the deadly Danziger shootings were granted new trials.

Former NOPD officer David Warren was sentenced in federal court in 2010 but was granted a new trial because a federal appeals court agreed that he should have been tried separately from the other NOPD officers involved in the case. Warren was acquitted after his retrial in December 2013.

Since Warren’s acquittal, the Glover family has asked former Orleans Parish Coroner Frank Minyard to change the cause of Henry Glover’s death from undetermined to homicide so that David Warren could be tried for his role in the victim’s death in Orleans Parish Criminal Court.

After the Glover family and about 200 residents showed up at the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office in December, Minyard agreed to re-open an investigation. Several days later, he refused to give the family copies of documents about the case he promised them during the meeting which was filmed and presented on local cable-access show “OurStory.” When the Glover family, members of the New Orleans Branch of the NAACP and community activists showed up to pick up the documents, they were only given a handful of document instead of the sizable number of pages promised. Shortly after the meeting, Minyard also announced that he was pulling out of the race for coroner.

While he promised to present the findings of his new investigation of Henry Glover’s cause of death within two weeks, Minyard later said that he was having difficulty getting federal court documents about the case and asked Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell to advise him regarding his ongoing investigation.

Shortly thereafter, the Glover family asked AG Buddy Caldwell to investigate Minyard’s handling of the Henry Glover case.

Caldwell ultimate declined to weigh in on the Henry Glover case and Minyard later said that he was unable to reach a conclusion in his investigation about the death of Glover.

Though frustrated, disappointed and angry by both the acquittal of David Warren and the justice system’s failure to administer justice in the case, the Glover family has vowed to continue to fight for justice for their slain loved one.

McRae is now the only former NOPD officer convicted in connection with the death of Henry Glover, who was shot in the back.

Former NOPD lieutenants Robert Italiano and Dwayne Scheuermann were both acquitted by the federal jury that convicted McRae. Federal prosecutors dropped charges against former NOPD officer Travis McCabe, who was initially charged with doctoring a police report, had his conviction overturned. Despite public outcry, McCabe has been reinstated to the force. After a federal jury acquitted David Warren in 2013 of violating Glover’s civil rights, Warren filed court papers seeking reimbursement for the cost of his legal defense.

This article originally published in the June 9, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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