NEW ORLEANS — Calling the crimes inexcusable and barbaric, a judge sentenced two former New Orleans police officers to prison Thursday for their roles in the shooting death of an unarmed man whose body was later set on fire in the chaotic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The 25-plus years David Warren received for shooting Henry Glover, 31, to death was the stiffest punishment so far in the Justice Department's investigations of post-Katrina police misconduct. Former Officer Gregory McRae was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison for burning Glover's body after the shooting.
U.S. District Judge Lance Africk rejected the notion that the cases would deter officers in the future from staying after a storm to protect the public. When Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005, many officers fled the city, leaving the police department with depleted forces. The National Guard was called to help control much of the city.
Warren said he thought Glover had a gun and posed a threat when he shot him outside a police substation at a strip mall.
Prosecutors said Glover wasn't armed when Warren shot him in the back. A resident drove Glover's body to a police compound. McRae commandeered the vehicle and set it on fire nearby.
"Your conduct was barbaric," Africk told McRae. "The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina was made uglier by your disturbing actions. … At a time when more was expected of you, you failed miserably."
Lawyers for the men argued they deserved some leniency, partly because of the horrific conditions and chaos after the hurricane.
Twenty current or former New Orleans police officers were charged last year in a series of Justice Department civil rights investigations. The investigation of Glover's death was the first of those cases to be tried.