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Retrials set for NOPD cops involved in deadly post-Katrina killings

28th January 2013   ·   0 Comments

A former police lieutenant accused of covering up a police killing after Hurricane Katrina will begin his second trial March 11. The former officer accused of the killing will be tried a week later, The Associated Press reported last week.

U.S. District Judge Lance Africk set the dates Jan. 22 for David Warren, who is accused of shooting 31-year-old Henry Glover on Sept. 2, 2005, and Travis McCabe, accused of doctoring a police report to make it appear that Warren was justified.

Henry Glover was gunned down in the parking lot of a West Bank strip mall by Officer David Warren, who was standing as guard at the makeshift police substation. After he was shot, Glover was aided by a friend who took him to an Algiers elementary school being used by police for assistance. William Tanner testified that he, Glover and several other civilians were beaten by cops at the school. Henry Glover’s remains were later found in Tanner’s abandoned car, which had been burned and left on a Mississippi River levee. His skull was removed from the charred vehicle by someone and bas not been returned to the family for proper burial.

Africk ruled in 2011 that McCabe deserves a second trial because an earlier copy of the report he allegedly changed was found after his conviction.

A federal appeals court overturned Warren’s conviction in December, saying he should have been tried separately from officers accused of the cover-up. His trial is to begin on March 18.

Also last week, a federal judge agreed to postpone the retrial of a retired NOPD sergeant charged with helping cover up deadly shootings on the Danziger Bridge in eastern New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt on Wednesday moved the start of Gerard Dugue’s retrial from March 11 to May 13. Lawyers for Dugue and the Justice Department had asked for more time to prepare.

Dugue’s first trial ended in a mistrial when Engelhardt ruled a prosecutor may have unfairly influenced the jury by mentioning the name of a man beaten to death by a New Orleans police officer in an unrelated case. Police shot six unarmed residents, killing two and wounding four others, on the Danziger Bridge several days after the 2005 storm.

Dugue is charged with writing a false report on the shootings.

“After working many years towards police reform, I have become a believer that some things will never change,” W.C. Johnson, host of local cable-access show “OurStory” and a member of Community United for Change, told The Louisiana Weekly Thursday. “The history of military behavior has not changed for several hundred years. And of course, white supremacy has not changed for at least 6,000 years (according to white folks). My organizational efforts related to police reform are focused more on educating the Black community as opposed to hoping white supremacy and the police/military forces will somehow become more humane by finding better, civilized ways of protecting and serving the ruling classes.

“History tells us that the only difference between the good guys and the bad guys is a badge and the oath of allegiance to a system that will protect the legalized gunfighter no matter what.

“The Glover and Danziger Bridge Massacre prove this historic observation to be true: David Warren and Travis McCabe are badge-wearing, gun-totting paramilitary officers who were allowed a second bite at the judicial apple because the criminal justice system perfected escape doors many years ago to protect those who protect the wealthy,” Johnson added. “Given the added bonus that these two hot shots killed a man who was not respected nor classified as a man before 1863, the criminal justice system feels as if the policeman’s future is more important than a man who was once looked upon as livestock.

“The real problem is wedged between a rock and a hard spot. That is the lack of understanding the Black community has in addressing the problems of racism and unequal justice. As an organizer, who has held protests in front of City Hall every week, I can honestly say Black folks have no idea the power Black folks have in determining the outcome of judicial economy.”

Johnson said there are pragmatic lessons for Black people to learn from their forebears’ legacy of organized struggle in America.

“Black America has a rich and successful history of mass demonstrations that moved mountains and parted rivers,” he said. “In a city of more than 100,000 Black folks, New Orleans should be able to amass 2,000 people on any given day. That is two percent or less of the total Black population. Two percent of the Black population could dictate policy and procedures on any issue standing before city business. With 2,000 people standing outside the Federal Courthouse during the Glover trial, Warren and McCabe could have gotten life sentences without any technicalities recalling the convictions. I must place business as usual within the criminal justice system squarely on the back of disenfranchised interest throughout the Black community.”

Johnson had this to say about the second trials several former NOPD officers convicted of various crimes connected to the Danziger and Glover murder cases are receiving: “It is costly and in many cases life-threatening. I do not know how the Glover family will be able to hold up under this pressure. And I must add, under this unnecessary and inhumane pressure, it is as if the family is being made to pay for Henry Glover being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It also appears that the Glover family is being forced to pay for Henry Glover’s attempts to survive racist white dogs shooting Black folks down after Katrina for sport and entertainment. Now the whole Black community is being made to suffer.”

Johnson said CUC and other community organizations will continue to supper the families of Henry Glover and the Danziger Bridge shooting victims, as well as all families who have lost loved ones to violence. “CUC will continue to be in the courtroom, at the home and on the streets with the family,” he said. “‘OurStory’ will continue to report the family’s side of the story and will always make time available to the family for them to talk directly to the people. CUC will be open to any and all suggestions that can and will assist the family in their time of need.”

“After more than two years of working directly with the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ), 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. The 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 has in his possession. If I had to sum up the work of the DOJ over the past two years, I would have to say, politics as usual.

“And once again I must say that the masses of Black people must bear the burden of responsibility by not showing up and showing out. In politics it is always about the numbers. You can’t say it was the election because Black Folks showed up to vote. The only other rationale is Black folks do not show up to protest. And protest is a proven method of effecting change.”

Johnson said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., should be held accountable for her decision to extend Jim Letten’s venue as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana even after a number of Black leaders asked new not to.

“There is no way of getting around the fact that Jim Letten held down the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Louisiana solely because of the work of Mary Landrieu,” Johnson told The Louisiana Weekly. “Black folks put Mary in office and see how Mary has repaid Black folks. With everything that has become public, there has to be at least 10 times that amount still being kept confidential. But with the public information out there, Jim Letten was running a Ku Klux Klan organization with the full knowledge and support of the so-called liberal whites of New Orleans. Between Mitch and Mary Landrieu, New Orleans’ Black community should be tired of the Landrieu family. Whatever good Moon was supposed to have done, that has all been washed away forever.”

*Additional reporting by Louisiana Weekly editor Edmund W. Lewis.

This article was originally published in the January 28, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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