In the summer of 2010, a federal grand jury indicted five New Orleans police officers on charges of fatally shooting 31-year-old Henry Glover on September 2, 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and then altering police reports to make the shooting appear justified.
Lt. Travis McCabe was accused of rewriting a report initially composed by Sgt. Purnella Simmons that documented the shooting of Glover by fellow officer David Warren and the burning of Glover’s body by fellow officer Gregory McRae. McCabe was accused of rewriting the report to obstruct a federal investigation of Glover’s death.
McCabe was also accused making a false statement to an FBI agent on one occasion and making a false statement to a federal grand jury on another occasion—both times when he said that he had not altered the substance of Simmons’ initial report.
McCabe went on trial in U.S. District Court in New Orleans in the late fall of 2010, along with co-defendants Warren, McRae, Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann (who was accused of helping burn Glover’s car), and Lt. Robert Italiano (who was accused of participating in the cover up). At the trial, Simmons testified about what she wrote in the original version of the report, but said the original version was not available.
Simmons testified that key details were removed from her report. She said her version of the report said that Warren’s partner on the day of the shooting felt that the shooting was not justified, but that fact was not contained in the final version of the report.
In December 2010, McCabe, McRae and Warren were convicted by a jury. Scheuermann and Italiano were acquitted.
While awaiting sentencing, McCabe filed a motion for a new trial, claiming that after the trial was over, Warren’s lawyers disclosed that they had discovered they had a copy of the original version of Simmons’ report. The lawyers said Warren had given it to them even before McCabe became a target of the investigation and so it was not significant to them. Their memory that they had the report was triggered by an off-hand statement by Warren to his lawyers.
In May 2011, U.S. District Court Judge Lance Africk reversed McCabe’s conviction and ordered a new trial. The judge ruled that “except for three minor differences,” Simmons’ original report and McCabe’s rewritten version were “identical in substance.”
On February 6, 2014, the U.S. Attorney’s Office dismissed the charges against McCabe. By that time, Warren had received a new trial because the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that he should have been tried separately from the other defendants. At his retrial, Warren was acquitted. McRae was sentenced to 17 years in prison.
– Maurice Possley