New Orleans officer cleared of coverup reinstated to police force
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A former New Orleans police officer accused in the cover-up of the burning and deadly shooting of Henry Glover just days after Hurricane Katrina is back on the force.
The Civil Service Commission unanimously agreed Monday to reinstate Lt. Travis McCabe, approving an “amicable settlement” between McCabe and the police department.
McCabe was convicted in 2010, then granted a retrial over allegations he helped hide the officer-involved shooting that killed Glover. The reinstatement, with about three years of back pay, came a week after federal prosecutors dropped their case against him.
McCabe declined to comment. His attorney, Eric Hessler, said his client has always maintained his innocence.
“It’s the only outcome that would have been legal and just,” said Hessler of the commission’s decision to reinstate McCabe.
Hessler said McCabe could return to duty as soon as Tuesday but Superintendent Ronal Serpas said McCabe likely would need retraining before he hits the streets.
Glover’s aunt, Rebecca Glover, and several supporters protested as the commission met to discuss reinstating McCabe. They wore T-shirts reading “I am Henry Glover” in bold letters.
Coming on the heels of the December acquittal of former Officer David Warren in a retrial over his shooting of Glover at an Algiers strip mall, Rebecca Glover said she was upset with the decision. She held a photo purported to show Glover’s charred skull in the backseat of the white Chevy Malibu that another officer, Gregory McRae, set aflame on the Algiers levee.
“He’s gonna’ do this to somebody else,” she said of McCabe. “The city stinks, that’s all I can tell you. He covered up all of this. He knew all about this.”
That’s not how U.S. District Judge Lance Africk saw it.
Five months after the conviction, Africk ordered a new trial for McCabe over allegations that he doctored a police report on Warren firing his weapon at a man who only later was identified as Glover. Africk found that newly discovered evidence — an early draft of the shooting report — would “probably produce a jury acquittal.”
Prosecutors accused McCabe of helping rewrite a report drafted by another officer to obscure evidence that Warren hit the man he fired at, and inserting language to justify the shooting. But Africk found the draft report’s contents mirrored the final report, casting doubt on that claim.
The draft report was found after the 2010 trial in the records of Warren’s attorneys. Warren said he received it in December 2005 from former Sgt. Purnella Simmons, the officer who testified that her original report was later doctored.
McCabe will receive back pay dating to his formal termination date of Feb. 23, 2011, minus any money he made in the meantime. Hessler said that McCabe worked a few odd jobs, including a stint as a tow truck driver. It’s unclear just how much the city will pay McCabe.
“He’s glad it’s over with, obviously. But he’s always maintained his innocence. It’s just a great feeling for him to have been shown to be true for all these years,” Hessler said.
Serpas said McCabe would go through the “normal reinstatement process,” and that he would be assigned to the Field Operations Bureau. Deputy Superintendent Darryl Albert will decide on an assignment for McCabe, Serpas said.
The volatility of the decision wasn’t lost on civil service Commissioner Michelle Craig, who sought to tamp down the tension over McCabe’s reinstatement.
“This is a deeply troublesome issue,” Craig said. “The issue is, the city made a decision” to withdraw disciplinary action against McCabe.
“We have decided to accept their settlement agreement as it stands.”
The two-page agreement between the city and McCabe, recounts the history of McCabe’s suspension and spells out the deal to give him back pay, including for his days while on a 120-day emergency suspension. He will receive all of the benefits and leave time that he would have accrued had he been working, the agreement states.
There is now just one former officer, Gregory McRae, who remains convicted in the case.
McRae was found guilty in 2010 of burning Glover’s body in a car after a good Samaritan drove the dying man to a makeshift police compound. Africk sentenced McRae to more than 17 years in prison.
A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld McRae’s conviction but ordered Africk to resentence him. Resentencing is set for March 13.