New Orleans police officer under investigation in shooting in days after Katrina

glover_tanner_burnt_car_propublica.jpgBy Brendan McCarthy and Laura Maggi, Times-Picayune with additional reporting by A.C. Thompson, ProPublica

A rookie New Orleans police officer who had been on the force for just a year is under investigation in the shooting of Henry Glover outside an Algiers strip mall four days after Hurricane Katrina, the first act in a bizarre chain of events that has led to a massive federal probe into the city's Police Department.

Glover'sburned remains were found weeks after the August 2005 storm inside anabandoned, nearly incinerated car on the Algiers levee

During the past year, the U.S. Department of Justice has interviewed scores of officers in an effort to determine how the 31-year-old Glover died, as well as whether officers may have tried to cover up his death.

William Tanner, an Algiers man, has described his effort to getmedical treatment from police for Glover's gunshot wound. Tanner hasalleged that a group of officers from the SWAT unit detained and beathim and two other men, refused medical care for Glover, and eventuallydrove off in Tanner's car, with Glover's body inside.

But it wasnever known who had shot Glover. Now, several sources and a defenseattorney confirm that federal investigators believe that then-NOPDofficer David Warren shot Glover.

It's unclear if Warren'sbullet killed Glover. It's also unclear whether another group ofofficers under investigation for setting the car on fire--including twoleaders of the NOPD's high-profile SWAT unit, Capt. Jeff Winn and Lt.Dwayne Scheuermann--knew that Glover had been possibly shot by a fellowcop.

What is clear is that the shooting was the first in astring of questionable actions by NOPD officers now at the center of asprawling probe.

Rookie reassigned in days after Katrina

Warren,47, was a rookie on the force assigned to the 7th District in easternNew Orleans when the storm struck. He was unable to get to his post andwas directed to the 4th District in Algiers, according to his attorney,Joseph Albe.

On Friday, Sept. 2, 2005--four days into theflood--Warren and his patrol partner encountered two men behind a ChuckE. Cheese's restaurant near the intersection of Seine Drive and TexasDrive, Albe said.

Glover was at that location that afternoon with a friend when he was shot, according to family members.

Warren,in uniform, saw two men ge out of a truck and "charge" toward abusiness, Albe said. Warren believed they were going to loot thebusiness.

"He yelled stop, halt, whatever," Albe said. "They didn't."

Warren, an expert marksman, pulled the trigger on his rifle. A shot rang out.

"After he fired, the guys turned around and ran off," Albe said.

Warren, who Albe said doesn't know exactly where the bullet landed, then called ranking officers and reported the shooting.

"He did exactly what he was supposed to have done," Albe said.

Thoughthe location, the date, time and circumstances square with civilianaccounts, Albe maintains there is no evidence that shows Warren shotGlover.

"Did David Warren shoot his gun? Yes. He shot one shot. Do we know whether it was Henry Glover? No ... We may never know."

Warren never wrote a report on the shooting incident.

"He was told not to" by ranking officers, Albe said. "Plus, an officer involved in a shooting doesn't write his own report."

Areport written more than a week after the incident classified theshooting as a "miscellaneous incident," a designation given to minormatters that typically receive no follow-up, the attorney said.

Albeand other attorneys representing the officers under investigation havesaid the chaotic circumstances after Katrina need to be taken intoconsideration when judging officers' actions.

"It wasn't 'protect and serve,'" Albe said Friday. "It was protect themselves. It was a question of survival."

An unconventional officer

Warren is no longer with the NOPD. He joined the department as arecruit in December 2003 and was sworn in as an officer in May 2004. Heleft the force in 2008, according to civil service records.

Hewas an unconventional rookie: He joined the force mid-career and holdsseveral degrees, including a master's of business administration degreefrom the University of Wisconsin, according to his personnel file.

Hisresume also states he has worked in the armed services, andparticipated in "use of force and threat assessment" training at theLethal Force Institute Inc. At the NOPD's graduation for his recruitclass, Warren was honored with a precision shooting award for havingthe highest cumulative score during firearms training.

Civilian witnesses have already given their version of the events of Sept 2, 2005, to federal agents.

Glover's fiancee, Rolanda Short, said last fall that Glover had goneout that morning to scavenge for supplies. After Katrina, with nostores open, he had been in charge of getting food, water and charcoalfor the couple's extended family, several of whom lived near theirapartment on Garden Oaks Drive, she said.

Short heard someone inthe street shout out that Glover, who was known as "Ace," had beenshot. Short said the man on the street indicated a police officer--maybea state trooper--had shot the father of her young daughter.

Hearingthe news, Short ran out into the street and saw Glover lying face downon the pavement with blood pouring from his chest. Short said as sheheld Glover's hand, a car pulled up and two police officers got out.They ordered Short to back away from her fiance, but she refused.Eventually they left, said Short, who was interviewed by FBI agentslast year.

At that point, a potential savior appeared, Shortrecalled. Tanner, a maintenance man on a quest for gasoline for hiscar, stopped his white Chevrolet Malibu at the behest of Glover'sbrother, Edward King. Though he didn't know Glover, Tanner agreed totry to help.

A search for help

Tanner decided that driving several miles to West Jefferson MedicalCenter, the original plan, was a bad idea. With Glover in the car'sback seat, and the injured man's brother and another man in the car,Tanner drove to a nearby school where the NOPD's SWAT unit had set upcamp during the storm.

Instead of helping them, Tanner allegesthat SWAT team members at Paul B. Habans Elementary School handcuffedthe three uninjured men, interrogating them about what they were doing.

Theofficers jumped to the conclusion that the men were looters, and beatthem, with officers kicking Tanner in the ribs, and one officer hittinghim in the head with the butt of a gun, Tanner said.

Officers did not tend to Glover, who lay wounded--or possibly dead--in the back seat of the car, Tanner said.

Atone point, an officer in a tactical uniform took Tanner's key chain,removed the key to his car and headed toward his Malibu, with flaressticking out of the front pocket of his cargo pants, Tanner recalled.The officer took off in the car, following other officers who were in awhite truck, he said. Glover was still in the back seat of the car.

Eventually, Tanner and the other men were released. They fled the city.

Scorched bone fragments recovered

Soldiers from the Army's 82nd Airborne recovered Glover's remains,mostly scorched bone fragments with "minute fragments of metal," frominside Tanner's charred car, which had been left beside the levee nearPatterson Drive and Gen. Collins Avenue. The site was blocks away fromthe NOPD's 4th District station and a U.S. Border Patrol office, abouta mile and a half away from the elementary school where SWAT encamped.

CoronerFrank Minyard said DNA from family members helped confirm Glover'sidentity. The autopsy shows Minyard did not classify the death as ahomicide or flag it for police investigation.

Minyard's inaction in classifying the death a homicide is one reason police didn't begin an investigation, Albe said.

Sixdays after Glover's shooting, a pair of volunteer first responders fromthe Pittsburgh area, armed with a video camera, stumbled upon thevehicle. The two men videotaped what they found inside: a skull withtwo holes in it, according to a Pittsburgh television news report.

Theskull went missing sometime between the pair's discovery and when the82nd Airborne recovered the remains. No skull is mentioned in Glover's autopsy, which consisted of an examination of five biohazard bags containing bones and clumps of flesh.

Tannerlearned about the location of his vehicle months after the storm froman agent with the federal Immigration Customs and Enforcement agency.The car remained on the levee through early February 2009. A neighborsaid it was towed away by an NOPD truck a month later.

AlthoughTanner made several appeals to the NOPD in the time since Katrina tofind out what happened to his car, he never got anywhere.

Two veteran cops also under investigation

Two veteran officers, both highly decorated, are under investigationby federal authorities for playing possible roles in the disposal ofGlover's body. Winn and Scheuermann of the SWAT team are two targets ofthe investigation, Eric Hessler, an attorney representing Winn, haspreviously said.

Winn, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq,and Scheuermann are widely respected in the department. They haveworked in the some of the NOPD's most proactive and dangerous units,volunteering for harrowing assignments time and again. The SWAT teamresponded to numerous reports of violence in the city immediately afterthe storm.

Hessler has defended his client in interviews,saying Winn and the officers he commanded were the ones who stepped upduring the chaos after Katrina.

"Jeff Winn addressed everythingproperly by the guidelines the NOPD was working under during Katrina,"Hessler said Friday. "By all accounts, he did a great job."

Tanner's account of what happened to Glover first appeared in a 2008 article published in The Nation magazine and on the Web site of ProPublica,an investigative newsroom. Despite repeated inquiries by Tanner aboutwhat happened to his car, the New Orleans Police Department had notpreviously opened an investigation into Glover's death or theincineration of his corpse.

The story prompted a federal inquiry.Since then, dozens of officers, including the current and formersuperintendents, as well as other top brass, have appeared before afederal grand jury. The U.S. Department of Justice, working with thelocal FBI office and the U.S. attorney's office, has issued countlesssubpoenas to the NOPD, and interviewed several officers.

Thefederal investigation into Glover's death is one of several activeprobes into the NOPD. A grand jury examining the well-publicized Danziger Bridge shooting--inwhich two men were killed by police and four others were shot--commencedlast spring. The FBI also has an open investigation into the fatalpolice shooting death of Adolph Grimes III, 22, who was killed in an encounter with officers on New Year's Day 2009.

(For additional documents about this case, visit ProPublica's website.)