NOPD Investigating Officer Who Didn’t Report Knowledge of Henry Glover Shooting

May 23, 2012
by Sarah Childress Senior Reporter

Watch Law and Disorder, FRONTLINE’s investigation into questionable police shootings by the New Orleans Police Department in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The New Orleans Police Department is investigating why a veteran officer apparently never told the department that she had heard in September 2005 that a police officer under her command had killed Henry Glover, an unarmed civilian whose body was later burned by other NOPD officers in the days following Hurricane Katrina.

Sgt. Lesia Mims told the FBI in a March 2010 interview that another officer, Keyallah Bell, told her about the shooting and burning of Glover’s body shortly after the incident occurred. But that information apparently was never passed on to the NOPD by Mims — who went on to work in the department’s Public Integrity Bureau, which investigates police abuse and corruption — nor by the FBI, even though federal agents had shared other information on police misconduct with the department.

“It still remains unclear who is responsible for the apparent lapse in oversight,” writes the Times-Picayune‘s Brendan McCarthy, who broke the story. “NOPD officials met with counterparts from the FBI and U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s office several times in debriefings about possible misconduct the feds turned up in the Glover investigation and a series of related probes.”

In December 2010, former NOPD officer David Warren was convicted of shooting and killing Glover, while two other officers were convicted on charges relating to the burning of the body and the ensuing cover-up.

According to the FBI interview report [PDF] obtained by the Times-Pic, Mims said that:

  • Bell told her that Warren — who was under Mims’ command — had shot a civilian, and that the body was later found burned in a car.
  • Bell also told her that “the rank” in the NOPD’s Fourth District were helping to cover up the shooting and burning of the car and “giving [Glover’s] family the run around every time they came to the station.”
  • Bell and Officer Linda Howard, Warren’s partner on the day of the shooting, told her they were “having nightmares” and were “very disturbed” by what had happened.
  • She had heard rumors that NOPD Special Operations Division officers were responsible for burning the car containing Glover’s body.

Mims never followed up on what she learned, she told the FBI. She said didn’t go to the levee where Bell told her the burned car and the body would be found. As Warren’s superior, Mims should have been notified if one of her officers was involved in a shooting, but she told the FBI she never saw a police report on what happened, and it’s not clear whether she asked to see one. She also apparently didn’t report what she knew to anyone else at the department.

NOPD officials said they weren’t aware of Mims’ FBI interview until it was revealed by the Times-Picayune this week, and that she has been placed on desk duty pending an internal investigation.

The Glover shooting is one of six questionable cases of post-Katrina police shootings FRONTLINE has been investigating with ProPublica and the Times-Picayune for more than two years.

Last year, the Justice Department blasted the NOPD for “systemic violations of civil rights,” and embedded two FBI agents full-time in the troubled department to pursue allegations of corruption and civil-rights violations. The NOPD and the Justice Department are also working to establish a consent decree to foster “fundamental culture change” in the department.

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