New Orleans mayor apologizes after Katrina verdict

HOUSTON Fri Dec 10, 2010 6:38pm EST

HOUSTON (Reuters) - New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu issued a public apology on Friday, the day after a federal jury convicted three current and former New Orleans police officers in the shooting death and burning of a man in the chaotic days following devastating Hurricane Katrina.

Former officer David Warren was convicted of manslaughter for shooting 31-year-old Henry Glover on September 2, 2005, days after Katrina flooded 80 percent of New Orleans and killed 1,500 people as the city plunged into lawlessness.

"A very sad chapter in the history of New Orleans was written during this time," Landrieu, flanked by city officials, said at a news conference where he issued an apology to Glover's family.

"A life was taken wrongfully and the civil rights of American citizens were violated," Landrieu said.

Jurors, who deliberated for three days before returning a verdict in the case, also convicted officer Greg McCrae for burning Glover's body in a car.

Officer Travis McCabe was convicted of submitting a false police report on the killing and lying to federal investigators.

A U.S. District Court judge ruled on Friday that McRae and McCabe can remain free on bond until their sentencing hearing on March 12, 2011. Warren remains in custody.

Federal prosecutor Jared Fishman said McRae and McCabe "showed callous indifference to the community" and should remain in custody. Lawyers for the defendants said they posed no flight risk, local media reported.

Rebecca Glover, the victim's aunt, criticized the judge's decision and said the two should remain in custody until sentencing. "March -- that's a long time," Glover told local television stations after the bond hearing.

Two others, officer Dwayne Scheuermann and retired officer Robert Italiano, were acquitted of all charges in the burning and cover-up.

At the news conference, New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas announced that McCabe and McRae were placed on immediate emergency suspension, and Scheuermann would be placed on administrative assignment with no policing duties while investigators examined past statements.

"This community has suffered and the movement forward is critically important," Serpas said, reiterating that officers who make false statements will face discipline.

"We meant what we said when we said it -- if you lie you die, if you create a false or an inaccurate police report you will be terminated," Serpas said.

(Reporting by Chris Baltimore; Editing by Jerry Norton)