NEW ORLEANS – A former New Orleans police officer on trial for gunning down a man outside a strip mall in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath said after the shooting that looters are "animals" who "deserved to be shot," a fellow officer testified Friday.
The former officer, David Warren, is charged with fatally shooting 31-year-old Henry Glover before two other officers allegedly burned his body in a car. Prosecutors say Glover wasn't armed and didn't pose a threat, but Warren's lawyers say he thought Glover was a looter reaching for a weapon when he shot him.
Alec Brown, a former officer who left the force in 2008, testified that he and Warren argued about looters while patrolling after the 2005 hurricane. Brown said he defended people taking food, while Warren said looters "were all animals and they deserved to be shot, and that they were all destroying the city."
"I told him, 'That's not right,'" Brown said.
Six days after Glover's death, Brown found Glover's burned remains in a charred car abandoned on a Mississippi River levee near a police station. Brown said he reported it to a superior officer, Travis McCabe. McCabe is now a lieutenant with the department.
"He said that they knew about it, don't worry about it. Police need to stick together," Brown said. "I believed it was a weird statement."
Later, Brown said, he was discussing the burned body with another officer when McCabe overheard. Brown quoted McCabe telling him, "I told you we already know about it. Just leave it alone."
That didn't stop Brown from asking Warren about it later, while they shared a patrol car.
"He put his head down and said, 'I don't know, maybe it was just a looter,'" Brown said.
Four other current or former officers, including McCabe, are charged with trying to cover up Glover's death. Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann and Officer Gregory McRae are accused of burning Glover's body. Former Lt. Robert Italiano and McCabe are accused of falsifying a report to make it appear Glover's shooting was justified.
Bernard Calloway, a friend of Glover's, said he and Glover had driven to the strip mall on the morning of Sept. 2, 2005, to retrieve suitcases for a friend who had left them there. Calloway said he saw Glover lean against the truck and light a cigarette just before he heard a shot ring out and a man yell, "Leave now!"
After the shooting, a passing motorist stopped and drove Glover, his brother and Calloway to a makeshift police headquarters at an elementary school to get help. Instead, officers allegedly ordered the three men out of the car and handcuffed and beat them while Glover remained in the back seat.
William Tanner, the driver who stopped to help, testified Friday that officers used racial slurs as they ordered them out of the car and onto the ground.
All of the men in the car were black. All of the five men on trial are white.
At the school, the men pleaded for the officers to get medical attention for Glover.
"They said we were just looters," Calloway testified.
Calloway said Glover's brother, Edward King, grew angry when they didn't help and yelled, "Whoever shot my brother, I'm going to kill him!"
Tanner identified McRae as the officer who kicked him in the stomach and hit him in the head with the butt of a rifle. He identified Scheuermann as the officer who beat King. Calloway said somebody hit him in the back of the head, but he couldn't say who that was.
During cross-examination, McRae's lawyer suggested that Tanner has given different descriptions of his alleged assailant that don't match McRae, including a man with arm tattoos. McRae took off his shirt in court and showed the jury that he doesn't have tattoos on his arms.
Tanner said none of the officers at the school tried to get medical attention for Glover.
"They didn't do nothing for him. They ignored this man," Tanner said.
After the officers drove off with his car, Tanner eventually was allowed to leave. Tanner said he learned weeks later from a federal agent that his car had turned up on the levee.