A federal jury has acquitted former New Orleans police officer David Warren of the fatal shooting of a man without justification outside a strip mall following Hurricane Katrina.  Jurors deliberated for 12 hours before acquitting Warren of civil rights violations and firearms charges stemming from the 2005 death of 31-year-old Henry Glover, whose body was later burned in a car by a separate officer.

Warren testified during the trial that he feared for his life and shot Glover because he thought he saw a gun in his hand.  He had seen Glover and another man run toward the building that Warren was guarding.  Prosecutors told jurors that Glover was not armed and was not a threat.

Defense attorney Richard Simmons said the case was always about “a policeman’s worst nightmare, that split-second decision.”

He went on to tell the jury, “The benefit of the doubt has to go to the officer…there’s no winners or losers, there’s just survivors…”

Warren had been sentenced to 26 years in prison after his first trial in 2010 resulted in a guilty verdict for a manslaughter charge.  An appeals court overturned his conviction last year.  A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit ruled that he should have been tried separately from four other former officers charged in an alleged cover-up of Glover’s death. The panel agreed with Warren’s lawyers that the “spillover effect” of evidence about the cover-up denied him a fair trial.

The jury in this retrial was barred from hearing any testimony about what happened after Glover was shot.  A Good Samaritan then drove Glover to a makeshift police station, so he could receive medical attention.  There, both men were attacked and detained.  Glover died and his body was taken elsewhere and burned.  Officer Gregory McRae was convicted in 2010 of burning Glover’s body and his convictions were upheld.

Warren and another officer, Linda Howard, were guarding a police substation at the strip mall on the morning of Sept. 2, 2005, when Glover and another man pulled up.  Warren said he yelled, “Police, get back!” twice when Glover and his friend, Bernard Calloway exited their truck.  The two ran toward a gate that would have given them access to the building.

Testimony differed during the trial, while Warren told the jury the men were running at the building, ignoring his warnings, Howard told them that the men were running in different directions after the shot was fired, and Calloway testified that Glover was standing next to the truck smoking, not running toward the building when Warren shot him.

Officer Alec Brown told jurors that Warren told him, after the shooting, that he thought looters were “animals” and deserved to be shot.  Warren told the jury he never said that.  Earlier that same day, Warren fired a “warning shot” at a different man who was riding a bicycle near the mall.  Warren told the jury he knew he wasn’t allowed to fire a warning shot, but he was worried the man was going to do “something stupid”.

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