Jury selection for ex-officer in Katrina shooting

african kings

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal judge in New Orleans said he expected to seat a jury on Tuesday to hear the retrial of a former New Orleans police officer who shot and killed a man outside a strip mall after Hurricane Katrina.

It’s the second trial U.S. District Judge Lance Africk has held in three years for David Warren, who was guarding a second-floor police substation from a balcony when he shot 31-year-old Henry Glover on the ground in the chaotic aftermath of the 2005 storm.

Warren is charged with violating Glover’s civil rights and with using a weapon in a violent crime.

Warren was serving a prison sentence of nearly 26 years when a federal appeals court overturned a manslaughter conviction handed down in 2010. Jurors that year saw and heard prejudicial evidence because Warren was tried with officers accused of a cover-up that included burning Glover’s body in a car, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

The weapons charge originally said Glover’s death “involved actions constituting murder.” Africk let the government drop that section, under which jurors in the first trial also were allowed to consider manslaughter, from the retrial.

Jury selection began Monday with a group of 47 people. A second jury pool was to be brought in Tuesday, with the final choice to be made Tuesday afternoon from those remaining in both pools.

Africk emphasized Monday that Warren’s case is unrelated to any other federal case, including those alleging police misconduct. He specifically mentioned deadly police shootings on New Orleans’ Danziger bridge after Hurricane Katrina. Warren’s attorneys argued in October that some prospective jurors had mistakenly believed he was involved in that case.

“This is not the Danziger Bridge case and has nothing to do with it,” Africk told this group.

The New Orleans Police Department had been plagued for years by complaints about corruption. It came under renewed scrutiny after a string of police shootings in the aftermath of Katrina.

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.

During his first trial, Warren testified that he believed Glover had a gun when he fired at him.

Defense attorneys have asked Africk to exclude testimony from that trial as retrial evidence, arguing Warren had to testify because of evidence that will not be allowed this time. “Any prior testimony by Warren is inadmissible unless and until he chooses to take the stand in his defense,” they wrote.

Prosecutors responded Friday that prior testimony can be ruled out only if it was the product of government misconduct, which has not been found in this case.

Warren was among 20 officers charged in a series of federal investigations of alleged police misconduct in New Orleans — cases many saw as catalysts for healing the city’s post-Katrina wounds. Five pleaded guilty; three were acquitted; four convictions were upheld; seven await retrials after their convictions were overturned; and another trial ended in a mistrial because of a prosecutor’s remarks.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.