This week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that a former New Orleans police officer convicted of manslaughter for a post-Katrina shooting suffered specific and compelling prejudice because a trial court refused to sever his case from two co-defendants' cases, The Times-Picayune reports.
The appellate court vacated his conviction and granted a new trial in the matter.
David Warren was a rookie patrol officer with the NOPD during Hurricane Katrina. On September 2, 2005, Warren was guarding a police substation in strip mall when he spotted Henry Glover. Warren thought Glover was a looter, and shot him.
Glover survived the shot, and William Tanner took him to a nearby school, where Tanner knew the NOPD had set up a compound. When Tanner and two others arrived at the school with Glover, police ordered them out of the car at gunpoint. The police didn't offer Glover medical assistance. He died in the car.
When ordered to move the car to a secure location away from the school, Officers Dwayne Scheuermann and Greg McRae drove Tanner's car to the levee. McRae intentionally lit the car on fire because he "wasn't going to let [Glover's body] rot."
Warren was tried jointly with McRae and Travis McCabe, (who was accused of submitting a false report investigating the shooting). In December 2010, a jury convicted Warren of depriving Glover of his right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer, and of carrying, using, and discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence resulting in death. The jury found that the offense constituted voluntary manslaughter.
He was sentenced to 25 years, The Times-Picayune reports.
As the Fifth Circuit poignantly observed, "This case tells one of the nightmarish stories that arose from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 -- the physical devastation, human diaspora, and struggle of the City to maintain some semblance of law and order, and, in the chaos, a horrific failure of law enforcement. The case also demonstrates again the axiom that a cover-up, with its domino effect, begets more tragedy than the crime. It indeed presents a grim vignette within the larger Katrina story, told here in terms of legal consequences."
A new trial date has not yet been set.
- USA v. Gregory McRae, et al (Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals)
- 5th Cir Panel Backtracks: Corps Isn't Liable for Katrina Breach (FindLaw's Fifth Circuit Blog)
- Fifth Circuit Tosses Jury Award for Tourists Jailed During Katrina (FindLaw's Fifth Circuit Blog)