Friday, August 15, 2014
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — For a second time, a former New Orleans police officer has been sentenced to more than 17 years in prison for burning the body of a man shot to death by another New Orleans police officer in the chaotic days following Hurricane Katrina.
Gregory McRae, 53, already is imprisoned for burning Henry Glover's body. However, an appeals court had ordered a recalculation of his original 17-year sentence after one of his original convictions was thrown out.
In giving the same 17-year, 3-month sentence, U.S. District Judge Lance Africk said Friday that McRae was guilty of covering up an unlawful killing by fellow Officer David Warren. Africk's assertion comes despite a jury's earlier acquittal of Warren.
Africk rejected defense motions for departures from federal sentencing guidelines. They included arguments regarding McRae's mental state following the 2005 hurricane. Defense lawyer Michael Fawer said McRae was sleep deprived and mentally "unhinged" in the storm's aftermath.
Africk also rejected Fawer's argument that there was no evidence that McRae actually knew Glover had been shot by a police officer when he set fire to a car containing Glover's body on Sept. 2, 2005.
"Regardless of whether one may believe that you had knowledge that Henry Glover was the victim of a police shooting, the fact is that your obstruction of a homicide investigation by burning Henry Glover's body was compounded by your subsequent actions and inactions," Africk told McRae.
He went on to note that McRae went years without reporting what he had done.
Before being re-sentenced, McRae again apologized to Glover's mother, aunt and other family members. His aunt, Rebecca Glover, was unmoved. "It's a bunch of bull," she told reporters outside the federal courthouse.
McRae was allowed to visit with family members after the hearing. Fawer said McRae's wife has ovarian cancer.
The Glover case, and the unrelated police shootings of unarmed civilians at New Orleans' Danziger bridge in the days after the storm, brought new attention to a police department plagued by various scandals for years. After Mayor Mitch Landrieu took office in 2010, he invited U.S. Justice Department scrutiny. The city eventually signed a federal court-backed agreement to introduce a multitude of policy reforms.
Glover was shot at a strip mall being guarded by police four days after Katrina hit. Although five people were originally tried in the case, McRae is now the only officer convicted.
Initially convicted on a federal manslaughter charge, Warren won a new trial when an appeals court said he should have been tried separately from four other former officers charged in the cover-up of Glover's death.
Warren was acquitted after testifying he feared for his life when he shot Glover because he thought he saw a gun in his hand as he and another man ran toward the building he was guarding.
Another officer, convicted of writing a false report on the incident, had his conviction thrown out after new evidence surfaced. Two other officers were acquitted.