When I began investigating the mysterious death of Henry Glover, one of the most notable aspects of the case was the lack of documents.
Here was a New Orleans resident found incinerated in a car just a few hundred feet from a police station in September 2005, shortly after Hurricane Katrina. Yet there was no sign that anyone in authority had ever conducted any sort of investigation. The New Orleans Police Department told me in 2008 that they knew absolutely nothing about Glover’s demise.
Today’s indictment suggests that was not true. The 11-count indictment accuses police officers of shooting Glover and torching his corpse, physically attacking his brother and another man, and then attempting to conceal it all.
What’s most striking about the charging documents is what they do not address: The extraordinary number of officers in the department who were likely aware of these events as they unfolded.
David Warren, the former officer indicted for allegedly shooting Glover with a .223 rifle round, was accompanied by another officer when he fired the shot.
At that point, a man named William Tanner tried to help Glover, driving him and his brother to seek medical assistance at an elementary school that had been commandeered by a SWAT team of officers. (Tanner didn’t know that Glover had allegedly been shot by a police officer.)
The SWAT officers at the school failed to provide Glover with any medical assistance. Instead, prosecutors say, Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann and Officer Greg McRae “kicked and hit” Tanner and Glover’s brother, Edward King, without cause.
Numerous — possibly dozens — of other officers were likely present at the site of the alleged beatings. In an interview this week, a SWAT officer told me 50 to 60 cops were camped out at the school at any given time in the days after Katrina. (The officer declined to comment directly on the Glover matter.)
After Glover died, prosecutors say in the indictment, Scheuermann and McRae set fire to Glover’s body as it sat inside Tanner’s 2001 Chevrolet Malibu, which was parked on a Mississippi River levee.
That spot lies a remarkably short distance from the NOPD’s 4th District headquarters. All my reporting shows many other officers were aware that a man had been reduced to ashes there — it’s hard to fathom how cops stationed a few hundred feet away could have failed to notice such an inferno.
Yet none of these officers apparently saw fit to speak out about what happened at the time, or to alert superiors to possible misconduct by their peers.
When I began looking into Glover’s death, nobody at NOPD had conducted any sort of probe — in fact the burnt car was still sitting in the weeds just down the street from the police station.
His mother, Edna Glover, told me she’d gone to the department and made a police report, but had never received any real help in uncovering what became of her son. In the months to come, perhaps she’ll finally get a full accounting.
And hopefully, somewhere along the way somebody will ask the question: Who else within the NOPD knew about the sad and horrible death of Henry Glover?
This blog post first appeared on ProPublica.