One member of panel from Orleans
Federal prosecutors and attorneys for former New Orleans police officer David Warren late Tuesday settled on a jury of eight women and four men to decide whether the ex-patrolman gunned down Henry Glover for no justifiable reason a few days after Hurricane Katrina slammed the city.
The seating of the jury, which includes four black jurors and just one New Orleans resident, sets the stage for opening statements Wednesday morning in a partial replay of a 2010 prosecution that rattled the city with explosive accusations of police misconduct.
That case brought guilty verdicts for three of the five officers — including Warren— who stood trial together for the shooting, the later burning of Glover’s body and an alleged cover-up that followed.
Lawyers on both sides huddled with U.S. District Judge Lance Africk for nearly two hours late Tuesday to cull the final jury members from a group of 40 who remained after two days of individual questioning.
Among the 12 who were chosen, along with four alternates, are an executive for Smoothie King, a St. John Parish bus driver, a math tutor, a retired teacher, a software engineer from Lafourche Parish and a line cook from Tangipahoa Parish. They will return at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday to start hearing evidence in a case that is slated to run through next week.
Unlike the last trial, when Africk was forced to reinstate three jurors after all of the black jurors had been stricken by defense attorneys through the use of “peremptory challenges,” no such concerns came up Tuesday, at least not within earshot of courtroom spectators.
Africk insisted that the case had nothing to do with race, in response to one prospective juror who stood up to note that his wife is black.
Warren, 50, was a rookie officer when he shot Glover, 31, from the balcony of a strip mall at Gen. de Gaulle and Texas drives in Algiers on Sept. 2, 2005.
Warren, who is white, again will face accusations that he fired wantonly on Glover, who was black, with the intent to kill.
An appeals court last year threw out Warren’s conviction and 25-year prison sentence, saying the conviction was tainted by days of testimony over the burning of Glover’s body and an alleged years-long cover-up by other officers — actions that Warren was not alleged to have taken part in. This time, Africk has ordered prosecutors from U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite’s office and the U.S. Department of Justice to steer clear of any talk of a cover-up.
The focus instead will be on the shot Warren fired at Glover with his personal .223 caliber SIG Arms rifle, and what he was thinking at the time.
Warren, who sat quietly in a suit at the defense table Tuesday, faces charges of violating Glover’s right to be free from unreasonable use of force by a law enforcement officer, and of discharging a weapon in the commission of a violent crime — namely, the alleged civil rights violation that led to Glover’s death.
The second charge no longer includes an allegation that the violent crime was murder. The jury in 2010 acquitted him on the murder allegation, finding instead that he had committed manslaughter.
Warren, a firearms instructor and marksman, was a trained engineer before joining the NOPD later in life, graduating in 2004 from the police academy.
Two days before he shot Glover, he was among the officers who responded to the shooting of fellow officer Kevin Thomas in the head by a looter in Algiers. He then stood watch over one of the suspects in the shooting.
Whether that evidence makes it into trial remains for Africk still to decide, along with several other contested evidentiary issues that are likely to arise. Thomas is on the defense witness list, but Africk has not ruled on whether he will allow him to take the stand and has openly questioned the reason for letting him testify.
Warren’s state of mind when he shot Glover will be central to the case.
“We do want to show the background,” one of his attorneys, Julian Murray, told the judge. “He had to respond to the scene of an officer who was shot in the head.”
Warren insisted that he fired only after shouting a warning and seeing Glover and a friend, Bernard Calloway, running toward what Warren thought was a locked ground-floor gate behind the strip mall.
At the first trial, Warren claimed he saw something in Glover’s hand that looked like a weapon. He said he feared for his life.
Federal prosecutors hope to present testimony that Glover and Calloway didn’t pose any kind of threat after they pulled up to retrieve suitcases full of looted merchandise left behind by two women they knew. The veteran officer who was with Warren, Linda Howard, has said the two men were running away by the time Warren pulled the trigger.
Also remaining undetermined is whether federal prosecutors will be allowed to show the jury transcripts of Warren’s testimony at the first trial, specifically his answers to questions about shooting in the direction of a man riding a bicycle in front of the strip mall earlier the same day, and about a phone call he took a few months later from Glover’s mother, Edna Glover, who was seeking information about her son.
Whether Warren knew he had hit Glover with his single shot of a hollow-point bullet was a lingering question in the first trial, as prosecutors sought to cast doubt on his credibility.
If Africk allows it, prosecutors plan to call a forensic expert to testify that Glover was shot in the back, despite the fact that only Glover’s charred, headless remains were available for analysis. Warren’s attorneys expect to dispute that claim with their own experts.