Friday, December 10, 2010

Decisions in the Henry Glover case

Edna Glover with a picture of her late son Henry

A jury of five men and seven women returned convictions for three out of the five New Orleans police officers who had been accused by federal prosecutors on charges of murder and a cover up scheme in the tragic case of Henry Glover. Glover's badly burned body was found in an abandoned burned automobile in the days following Hurricane Katrina and the resulting breakdown of society in the aftermath of the flooding here. Glover's celebrated case is the first to be handled by federal prosecutors who sought to punish out of control police officers who decided to take the law into their own hands. At first declared heroes by some, many of the same indicted and now convicted officers will have much to think about from their federal jail cells. The upcoming case involving the shootings at the Danziger Bridge will determine how soon other officers will be brought to justice. The true stories about all of these crimes were covered up until last year, when federal prosecutors started bringing witnesses before grand juries. In the end no one wins from a decision like this. Two officers were exonerated and the public has decried that as a travesty. But in the end we are a society governed by law, not men. When the law is applied by men who interpret it, there is always a chance that it will be applied unevenly, that justice will not be served. Yet, as imperfect a system as it may be, the capacity to punish the guilty and free the innocent remains the only thing we have in place that assures that government truly serves the will of the people. No verdict tendered by a jury will ever fully satisfy either side of the clamoring crowd. The grieving family members have some solace, but they will not have their full measure of flesh. The jurors have executed their duty to the best of their abilities and we must accept it as having been decided by dedication to their duty and due diligence. As a city, we need to move on but remember the hard lessons of Katrina lest this sad story be repeated. If such a disaster ever strikes my beloved hometown again, I hope the professionals in charge of protecting my fellow citizens will keep the law in mind and take steps to make certain that these kinds of tragic mistakes and the attempts to cover them up will never occur again.

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