Friday, December 10, 2010

Three Officers Convicted in Henry Glover Killing And Cover-Up But Those Who Planned the Cover-Up Go Free

As verdicts were read yesterday in the first major trial involving the killings carried out by New Orleans police officers post-Katrina, reactions across the city were mixed. US Attorney Jim Letten, who refused for years to investigate the killings, hailed the verdict as a victory for not only his office but for "honest police officers." Activists also expressed optimism - Community United for Change co-founder Malcolm Suber expressed hope that "this may be the start of a new day," for the NOPD.

As reported on the website Pro-Publica, which first broke the story two years ago,
The jury found ex-cop David Warren guilty of shooting Glover, officer Greg McRae guilty of burning Glover's body, and Lt. Travis McCabe guilty of creating a false police report and misleading federal authorities when questioned about the case.

Two other police officials, Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann and former Lt. Robert Italiano, were acquitted of all charges against them. Scheuermann had been accused of participating in the burning Glover's body and beating the men who sought to rescue him after he was shot. Italiano had been indicted for trying to cover-up the crimes.

The acquittals of Scheuermann and Italiano, who seem to have been the officers who directly oversaw the cover-up, is especially disappointing. As recently reported by Pro-Publica and the Times-Picayune, Scheuermann seems to have benefited from the protection of his fellow officers many times over the years:

The lieutenant has weathered more than 50 separate complaints, ranging from accusations of brutality and rape to improper searches and seizures. But none of the allegations ever stuck, although two complaints are still pending. Every time, Scheuermann was cleared and sent back onto the streets.

He has also fired his gun in at least 15 different incidents, wounding at least four people. Experts on police practices say the number is unusual -- most officers never fire their weapons.

Scheuermann's lawyer told reporters that Scheuermann is "extremely happy about all of this. He's disappointed about his fellow officers who were convicted. He's a police officer for the city of New Orleans. He'll be at work tomorrow doing what he does and what he's always done."

One thing should be clear from this trial: the NOPD has an honesty problem. Almost all officers involved testified to lying at some point, or heard other officers testify that they had lied. The trial revealed that officers had lied in the reports they wrote, that they had lied in discussions with each other, and that they had lied to federal investigators.

Rebecca Glover, Henry Glover's aunt, told reporters, "all of them should have been found guilty. They all participated in this."

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