New Orleans Police Officer David Warren was found not guilty on the final day of his retrial, Jan. 8, 2013, on civil rights and weapons charges in the shooting and killing of Henry Glover just days after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The highly-charged case offered a glimpse into the alleged corruption of the New Orleans Police Department, the challenges that a new trial brings and still more questions about what happened on that fateful night, just days after the city had been ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.
Warren was originally convicted in 2010 and sentenced to 25 years in prison. His conviction was considered to be a milestone in the cleanup of the NOPD and the rest of the aftermath caused by Katrina.
However, a federal appeals court granted Warren a new trial in 2012 on the basis of its findings that Warren was unfairly tried alongside four other NOPD officers accused of covering up the shooting of Glover by setting fire to the car containing his body atop a Louisiana levee.
In nearly 5 hours of testimony during the retrial, during which no evidence from the burning of Glover’s body was included, Warren said he feared for his life when he fired at Glover from the balcony of a strip mall he was guarding. Warren said Glover was charging toward an unlocked gate with what he believed to be a handgun.
No weapon was ever found on Glover, and Bernard Calloway, who was with him at the time of the shooting, testified against Warren saying that Glover was lighting a cigarette by his truck, not running toward the police or the strip mall.
All of the officers involved in the death of Glover were initially prosecuted together, including Warren, who allegedly did not know about the other officers’ cover-up following the shooting.
Warren was serving a 25-year sentence when a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled he should have been tried separately from the other officers linked to the case. Due to what the court saw as “spillover” of evidence from the other officers’ cases, Warren was denied a fair trial, according to the panel.
Because much of the evidence collected in the 2005 trial was not in play during the retrial, including photos of Glover’s charred remains and of the burned car, jurors only heard evidence pertaining to Warren’s involvement which created a challenge for the panel, prosecutors, defense attorneys and Glover’s sister, Patrice, who was present on Jan. 8.
Jurors did hear testimony that Warren had, just one hour earlier, fired a warning shot at a cyclist circling the strip mall. In addition, his partner on duty that day, Linda Howard, testified that she had objected to the warning shot. Warren disputed that claim but admitted that a warning shot was against NOPD protocol.
Former officer Alec Brown also testified against Warren, describing a moment after the shooting when Warren expressed his belief that looters deserved to be shot because they were “animals.” Warren denied ever saying that.
Warren claimed that he feared for his life because he believed Glover was carrying a weapon and running toward the gate to the strip mall. Warren first fired a warning shot and then later shot and killed him.
After the retrial, Warren was embraced by happy family members.
Patrice Glover sobbed outside the courtroom after being escorted out for breaking down and crying loudly toward the end of the retrial.