Police Officers Are Not Above The Law?
The Sentencing Of Two Former New Orleans Police Officers For Killing A Man And Then Covering It Up Is A Step In The Right Direction
The U.S. Justice Department has indicted multiple members of the New Orleans Police Department because of their actions in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Images by Infrogmation of New Orleans and others.
By John Guzzon
Modern Times Magazine .com
April 12, 2011 — Police officers are a vital part of our society. They keep the peace and make sure we live in a primarily ordered world. They are necessary because not all people are willing abide by all of the rules all of the time.
But police officers are people, too. While the vast majority of them do their jobs to the best of their ability and without malice or prejudice, there are bad apples in every department. It is just the way it is.
The New Orleans Police Department that was confronted by the tragedy that was Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent actions of some of the officers of the department are prime evidence that there are bad seeds in every one's garden. Numerous reports of police shootings and beatings were reported in the days, weeks and months that followed the killer hurricane and now, finally, one of the incidents has brought about proof that police officers are not only fallible, but that they are not above the law.
As the first line in the criminal justice system, when a police officer does something against the law, it is sometimes a long path to justice.
Even when the police have committed murder.
Former New Orleans Police Department, or NOPD, Officer David Warren was sentenced last week to 25 years and nine months in prison in connection with the shooting death of Henry Glover, and current NOPD Officer Greg McRae was sentenced to 17 years and three months for the subsequent burning of Glover's remains and obstruction of justice.
Evidence presented at trial established that Warren, while stationed on a second floor lookout, shot Glover, who was a floor below him and running away. Glover's brother and a friend flagged down a passing motorist, ‘Good Samaritan’ William Tanner, who put the wounded Glover in his car to try to get medical attention for him. However, when the group of men drove up to a makeshift police station seeking help for Glover, police officers surrounded the men at gunpoint, handcuffed them and let Glover die in the back seat of the car. McRae then drove off with Tanner's car, with Glover's body inside, and burned both the body and the car with a traffic flare.
As part of the restitution order, Warren will also pay $7,642.32 to Glover's family for funeral expenses. Warren was found guilty by a federal jury of a civil rights violation resulting in death for shooting Glover, and for using a firearm to commit manslaughter.
"Instead of upholding their oath to protect and serve the people of New Orleans in the days after Hurricane Katrina, these officers abused their power, and violated the law and the public trust," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "Today's sentence brings a measure of justice to the Glover family and to the entire city."
Perhaps Perez called it merely a “measure of justice” because not all of the officers that were charged by the U.S. government were convicted. Besides McRae and Warren, NOPD Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann was charged with assaulting civilians who came to Glover's aid, as well as obstructing a federal investigation, and former NOPD Lts. Robert Italiano and Travis McCabe were charged with obstructing justice and lying to the FBI.
Scheurermann and Italiano were acquitted.
"Henry Glover was not at the strip mall to commit suicide. He was there to retrieve some baby clothing. You killed a man. Despite your tendentious arguments to the contrary, it was no mistake," Judge Lance M. Africk said when he sentenced David Warren, according to the Associated Press.
Twenty current or former New Orleans police officers were charged in 2010 by the U.S. Justice Department for their actions immediately after Hurricane Katrina. The probe of Glover's death was the first of those cases to go to judge and jury.
We can only hope that those victims can also receive at least some measure of justice.
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