3 US cops guilty in Katrina shooting
Washington - A US federal jury convicted three current and former New Orleans police officers on Thursday for shooting and burning a man in the post-Hurricane Katrina chaos.
Two other cops were acquitted at the end of the month-long trial. Jurors deliberated for three days before returning their verdict.
US Attorney Jim Letten hailed the split verdicts as a victory for prosecutors.
"Today's verdicts send a powerful message that no one is above the law, and that those who are sworn to protect our citizens are never, under any circumstances, relieved of their sacred responsibilities under our constitution," he said in a statement.
"Today is an important step forward for the courageous Glover family and the people of New Orleans, and an important move toward the city's healing and rebuilding."
The jury convicted former police officer David Warren on a civil rights violation, resulting in death, for the September 2 2005 shooting of Henry Glover. He faces a possible life sentence for that crime and up to 15 years behind bars for using a firearm during the killing.
Left to die
During the trial, prosecutors said Warren shot the 31-year-old in the back from a police station's balcony.
After the shooting, Glover's brother and a friend flagged down a passing motorist, who took the wounded man to a makeshift police station seeking help.
But instead, police allegedly surrounded the men at gunpoint, handcuffed them and left Glover to die in the backseat of the car.
Current officer Greg McRae then drove off with the car and burned the vehicle with Glover's body inside using a traffic flare.
The jury found McRae guilty on two counts of civil rights violations. One count charged that he wilfully used fire to destroy a civilian's property by burning and destroying the motorist's car, while the other said he wilfully deprived Glover's family members of their right to seek legal redress for his death.
McRae was further convicted on one count of obstruction of justice and one count of using fire in the commission of a felony. He faces a 50-year prison sentence.
False police report
Lieutenant Dwayne Scheuermann, who faced the same charges, was acquitted on all counts. Lieutenant Robert Italiano was acquitted on charges of making false statements.
The jury also convicted Lieutenant Travis McCabe for obstructing justice by writing and submitting a false report about the shooting, for lying to the FBI and lying to a federal grand jury that investigated Glover's death. He faces up to 30 years behind bars.
"Instead of upholding their oath to protect and serve the people of New Orleans in the days after Hurricane Katrina, these officers violated the law and the public trust," said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division.
"And while some officers broke through the thin blue line and told the truth under oath, others were rightly convicted for obstructing justice. Today's verdict brought a measure of justice to the Glover family and to the entire city."
Earlier this year, six police officers pleaded guilty to killing two innocent people - a 17-year-old boy and a 40-year-old mentally ill man who was shot in the back - on September 4 2005.
The high-profile shootings on the Danzinger Bridge, which also left four others seriously wounded, became a flash point for frustrations over the inept handling of the chaos and violence which enveloped the city six days after the deadly storm flooded nearly 80% of New Orleans.
The incident also brought the New Orleans police department's troubled history of corruption, racism and abuse to the national stage.