NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal jury was seated Tuesday to hear the retrial of a former New Orleans police officer who shot and killed a man outside a strip mall four days after Hurricane Katrina.
Opening statements will begin Wednesday in the case against 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 rights and with using a weapon in a violent crime.
This is the second trial U.S. District Judge Lance Africk has held in three years for Warren. The former police officer was serving a prison sentence of nearly 26 years when a federal appeals court 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 officers charged with participating in a cover-up designed to make Glover's shooting appear justified.
The weapons charge originally said Glover's death "involved actions constituting murder." For the retrial, Africk let the government drop that section, under which jurors in the first trial also were allowed to consider manslaughter.
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, 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.
Africk has emphasized to potential jurors in the retrial that Warren's case is unrelated to other federal cases, 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 said.
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.
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.