NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The brother-in-law of a man shot by a New Orleans police officer days after Hurricane Katrina testified Wednesday that Henry Glover was hit while he was standing still lighting a cigarette, but a fellow officer later testified Glover was running away.
Jurors in federal district court listening to the retrial of Officer David Warren must sift through such conflicting accounts when deciding whether Warren acted reasonably when he shot Glover on Sept. 2, 2005. Glover was shot outside a strip mall where Warren and the second officer were guarding a second-story substation.
U.S. District Judge Lance Africk has said he expects the trial to take two weeks.
Wednesday marked the first day of testimony in the retrial for Warren, who is charged with violating the 31-year-old Glover's civil rights and using a weapon in a violent crime. Warren testified in his first trial that he thought Glover had a gun.
The brother-in-law, Bernard Calloway, said he was with Glover the day of the shooting and that he was shot as he stood lighting a cigarette. But during testimony later in the day, now-retired New Orleans Police Officer Linda Howard, who was on duty with Warren the day of the shooting, said that Glover and Calloway were running away in separate directions when Warren fired his gun at him.
Calloway was the trial's first witness. Howard wound up the first day of testimony.
Howard testified that as she drove Warren to the substation on New Orleans' west bank, he asked her to stop at his house.
"He came out with an assault rifle," saying he needed its protection and asking if she wanted one, Howard recounted. She told him no, she testified.
Howard said that at one point during the day prior to Glover's shooting, Warren fired the rifle in the general direction of a man walking through the mall parking lot. Asked why he did it, she testified, "He said he just wanted to see something."
Later that day, the officers saw two women near a store carrying suitcases in a shopping cart, Howard said. A bit later, she heard screeching tires and saw a truck back up to the shopping cart. The driver and a passenger jumped out and ran toward it. Neither had a gun, she said.
Warren yelled something to get their attention. They ran — one down the street behind the building, the other toward a nearby corner — and Warren fired, Howard said.
The man, Glover, collapsed at the corner, she said.
Howard said she never felt threatened until Warren fired and she saw Glover fall.
She said Warren denied hitting anyone, refused to look when she said the man had fallen, and told her she didn't have to report the shooting. Howard testified that she was too shaken up at first to talk to the supervisor who showed up at the scene after Howard called. After giving the supervisor her account of events, she said, she asked to return to the main station because she didn't want to stay with Warren, who still had his gun. "He had just shot someone and I was the only witness," she testified.
Howard did not return to the station, however, she said. She said the rest of their shift was uneventful, but added that she sat up nights after that in her house, afraid.
Calloway testified that he and Glover intended to pick up family members from Glover's New Orleans apartment and head out of town four days after the devastating storm. Glover, driving a stolen truck, stopped at a curb where a sister-in-law of his said she had left a suitcase.
Calloway said Glover was standing next to the truck and lighting a cigarette. Calloway said that as he turned back to the suitcase, he heard gunfire.
"I heard POW! — a gunshot. I heard a voice that said, 'Leave now,'" Calloway testified. Calloway said that as he ran, he looked back and saw Glover stumble. When he looked again, Glover had fallen. Calloway ran back to help Glover, who was bleeding.
"He just said to tell his mama that he loved her. He was holding his chest," Calloway testified.
The trial is the second in three years for Warren, who was serving a prison sentence of nearly 26 years when a federal appeals court in December overturned a manslaughter conviction handed down in 2010.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Warren should have been tried separately from four other former officers, who were charged with participating in a cover-up. Gregory McRae was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison for burning Glover's body after he was gunned down and Travis McCabe of writing a false report on the shooting. The other two were acquitted.
While jurors were out of the courtroom, Africk noted that the jury did not include anyone who knew that Glover's body had been burned, that there had been a cover-up or that this is Warren's second trial.
In 2011, the Justice Department issued a scathing report alleging a pattern of discriminatory and unconstitutional conduct by police. The city and the Justice Department reached an agreement calling for sweeping changes in police policy, though the city has since objected to the potentially expensive agreement.