Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said Wednesday that he will meet with the family of Henry Glover and review, for the first time, Glover’s fatal shooting by a New Orleans police officer a few days after Hurricane Katrina hit the city in 2005.
Cannizzaro’s statement came a week after Orleans Parish Coroner Dr. Jeffrey Rouse announced he has reclassified Glover’s death as a homicide. That action, erasing the “undetermined” designation that former Coroner Dr. Frank Minyard had assigned to the death, left Cannizzaro with the decision of whether to bring new charges in the decade-old case.
In an interview with WWL-TV, Cannizzaro said he was waiting for Rouse’s report, along with FBI case files and transcripts from two federal trials over Glover’s death.
A jury initially convicted Officer David Warren, who shot Glover with a high-powered rifle, and two other cops, one for incinerating Glover’s body and the other for allegedly covering up the shooting. Warren was acquitted after a retrial in 2013.
“We have several things that we have to look at,” Cannizzaro said. “This office has never had an opportunity to look at this case. This matter has been prosecuted by the federal government for the last 10 years.”
His statement did not satisfy Glover’s relatives, who went ahead with a planned demonstration in front of Cannizzaro’s office on South White Street a few hours later. Glover’s aunt, Rebecca, said she wants the state to bring a murder case against Warren.
Her nephew was 31 when he and another man, Bernard Calloway, drove to the back parking lot of an Algiers strip mall to pick up some items that two of their friends had pilfered from one of the shops in the mostly abandoned city. Warren, a rookie officer guarding a police substation at the mall, fired once from the second-floor breezeway, striking Glover.
Calloway and Glover’s brother, Edward King, hoisted Glover into the car of a passerby, William Tanner, and raced for help at an emergency outpost set up at Habans Elementary School. They found none.
Officer Gregory McRae would later admit that he drove Tanner’s car, with Glover’s bloody body inside it, to the levee and set it on fire. Also convicted at a 2010 trial was Lt. Travis McCabe, accused of doctoring a report so as to whitewash the shooting. Later, however, a draft report turned up that closely matched the final report, leading U.S. District Judge Lance Africk to overturn McCabe’s conviction.
Only McRae remains behind bars, serving a 17-year sentence that Africk kept intact last year.
“I want the DA to prosecute David Warren because it’s murder. Murder is murder,” Rebecca Glover said Wednesday, holding a sign that read “Justice.”
“We didn’t get justice in federal court,” she said. “Ain’t but one doing time. Everyone else is running free.”
Prosecutors in the 2010 federal trial of five New Orleans police officers depicted a shocking conspiracy: police killing an innocent man amid the post-Katrina chaos, incinerating him and attempting to cover up the crime. But the case fell apart when a federal appeals court, in tossing out Warren’s conviction in 2012, said prosecutors reached too far by casting Warren as part of a conspiracy.
The jury that subsequently acquitted Warren in 2013 never heard about the burning of Glover’s body or the alleged police cover-up.
Instead, they were asked to decide on the narrow question of whether Warren was justified in shooting at Glover at the strip mall.
Last week, Warren’s attorneys said Rouse’s reclassification of the death changed nothing and did not justify a new state case against Warren.
“Because there is no newly discovered evidence, it is fundamentally unfair, if not a violation of the principle of double jeopardy, to commence a third trial of Mr. Warren,” attorney Rick Simmons said.
Rouse said that in reclassifying the death as a homicide, he reviewed a broader array of evidence than Minyard did before retiring last year after 40 years in office.
Just what swayed Rouse is uncertain, though emails obtained by The New Orleans Advocate through a public records request showed that he asked the FBI and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite’s office last year for a meeting and various records.
He wanted statements that King, Tanner and Glover’s sister, Patrice, gave to the FBI; a video recording of the burned car “that allegedly shows a skull in the debris,” a piece of evidence that later went missing; and “any and all information regarding the whereabouts of Mr. Glover’s skull or investigation into its whereabouts.”
What Rouse received in return remains secret. But the change in the death classification had long been sought by Glover’s family members and advocates as an acknowledgement that might lead to a new criminal case. State prosecutors generally require a homicide determination to even start looking at prosecuting a fatality.
Cannizzaro told WWL-TV that the only charge possible now against Warren would be murder because the statute of limitations has run out for manslaughter and negligent homicide.
“We’re going to sit down with the family,” Cannizzaro said, “and we’re going to tell them that we are going to look at this case.”
Former local NAACP President and mayoral candidate Danatus King said a sit-down isn’t enough.
“Right now we’re demanding, we’re not asking, we’re demanding that the DA bring charges against Officer Warren,” said King, a lawyer.
On hand at Wednesday’s demonstration was Independent Police Monitor Susan Hutson, who said she was there to support the Glover family.
“We got a new ruling from the coroner,” she said. “Now the ball is in the district attorney’s court. To his credit, he says he’s going to look at it,”
Local activist Norris Henderson, executive director of Voice of the Ex-Offender, said whether the evidence is enough for a new prosecution needs to be reviewed.
“It doesn’t take much to get someone indicted,” Henderson said.
“My concern is the ultimate outcome, not the 15-minute celebration that we got someone indicted.”
A spokesman for Cannizzaro’s office said the district attorney had already scheduled a meeting with Glover’s mother, Edna Glover, prior to the 11 a.m. demonstration.
Cannizzaro “intends to have a substantive conversation with Ms. Glover regarding the issues,” spokesman Christopher Bowman said.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.