CLICK HERE TO REPORT LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRUPTION (Provide as much information as possible: full names, descriptions, dates, times, activity, witnesses, etc.)

Telephone: 347-632-9775

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cop Kept Quiet About Shooting for 5 Years

Cop knew about Henry Glover shooting but didn't tell for 5 years 
The Times-Picayune by Brendan McCarthy  -  May 21, 2012

A New Orleans police sergeant in 2010 admitted to the FBI that she was told shortly after Hurricane Katrina that an officer under her command had fatally shot 31-year-old Henry Glover and that other cops were covering up the burning of his body. But Sgt. Lesia Mims, a 23-year NOPD veteran, apparently didn't tell anyone what she knew about one of the most shocking episodes in the city's history -- at least not anyone in the New Orleans Police Department. Her name never popped up in the high-profile, monthlong federal trial in December 2010, and she was never placed under internal investigation. In fact, she was promoted after the Glover killing, to an investigative position in the NOPD's Public Integrity Bureau, which looks into allegations of officer misconduct. It remains unclear how Mims, in light of her admission, escaped scrutiny. Mims readily admitted her knowledge of the circumstances of Glover's 2005 death when she was questioned by the FBI in March 2010, according to an FBI document obtained by The Times-Picayune. The interview occurred amid a civil rights probe of the police killing and cover-up, details of which were first revealed in a December 2009 Nation magazine article and in subsequent newspaper stories. Mims did not return a call for comment Monday evening. Her husband, NOPD Lt. Michael Mims, referred inquiries to the NOPD's spokeswoman. In total, 10 officers retired, resigned or were fired in the wake of revelations that came out of the Glover case, which resulted in the conviction of three officers -- one of which was later overturned -- in December 2010. Some officers were terminated for failing to alert police supervisors about what happened. View full size Sgt. Lesia Mims Last year, the Police Department closed the last of its administrative investigations -- which targeted officers who might have acted improperly, but had not been criminally charged -- in relation to the Glover case. With that and other high-profile civil-rights cases, including the Danziger Bridge shootings, in the rear-view mirror, police officials have sought to show that the department has weeded out the bad apples and turned a corner.

The Mims file raises new questions about whether that's true. Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas and Deputy Chief Arlinda Westbrook, head of the Public Integrity Bureau, have said the NOPD participated in debriefings with members of the FBI and U.S. Attorney Jim Letten's office. In those meetings, federal authorities talked about NOPD misconduct uncovered in their investigations. But Westbrook said last week that the feds did not hand over all their so-called "302" files, typewritten summaries of field interviews by special agents. "There were people they pointed to," Westbrook said, "and we asked for some (files)." Westbrook said the agencies had "an ongoing dialogue for some time," including telephone calls and meetings. "The support I had was unprecedented," she said. Westbrook has said that "all officers that had anything to do with Glover at least were looked at," and that she made the decisions on who to investigate further. Which begs the question: How did Mims slip through the cracks? It's unclear if the FBI, which conducted the Mims interview, or Letten's office, which handled the prosecution, ever drew the NOPD's attention to Mims' assertions. If so, did the NOPD ignore them? Westbrook, when confronted with the facts Monday, expressed shock and said the NOPD had never received the Mims file. "This is completely new to us," she said. "We had no knowledge of this." A spokeswoman for the FBI's New Orleans office declined to comment. U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said Monday he was "not in a position to comment on this. ... This is internal stuff ... what was turned over or not," he said. Henry Glover was killed by a New Orleans police officer shortly after Hurricane Katrina. Mims' admission about the Glover case is contained in a two-page FBI interview obtained by The Times-Picayune. Exactly who participated in the Glover cover-up remains hazy. Officers testified that aspects of the killing, and the burning, were well-known to some on the police force.

The NOPD's second-highest ranking cop, Assistant Superintendent Marlon Defillo, resigned last year after The Times-Picayune revealed he knew back in June 2008 of a possible NOPD role in Glover's killing and did little to explore the explosive claim. Some of the jurors, in interviews with the newspaper after their verdicts, said they believed the conspiracy in the NOPD went well beyond the witnesses and defendants they saw in court. In the Glover case, unlike the Danziger case, not a single officer pleaded guilty and cooperated with the government. Some of the officers who did testify for prosecutors offered conflicting accounts, and their story lines didn't always match. The NOPD's internal probes into Glover and other civil rights cases shed little new light on who knew what, and when they knew it. And while these inquiries meandered along, a supervisor in the Public Integrity Bureau had a secret she didn't share. Mims sat down on March 19, 2010, at the FBI's local office on the Lakefront for a voluntary interview with two FBI agents. One of the agents, Ashley Johnson, was the FBI's lead investigator on the Glover case. Mims told them, according to the FBI's synopsis, that she was a sergeant in the NOPD's 4th District in Algiers at the time of Katrina. She partnered with her husband, officer Michael Mims. They were assigned to guard the Walgreens drugstore on Gen. de Gaulle Drive. Mims said she witnessed an altercation days after the flood between Capt. David Kirsch, the head of the 4th District, and Capt. Jeff Winn, leader of the Special Operations Division. Winn's officers had taken medical supplies and necessities out of the Walgreens, angering Kirsch. Mims recalled that later that day, officers Purnella Simmons and Keyalah Bell told her that a shooting had taken place at a nearby Firestone tire shop, though they didn't provide details. The FBI file notes that a "short time after" this, Mims "began to notice that Bell had a very negative attitude toward 4th District Officer David Warren." Mims told the FBI that she asked her colleague about it, and Bell said Warren shot a civilian who was later found burned in a vehicle on the levee. Bell also said that NOPD 4th District "rank" was "covering up the shooting and burning, and the rank was giving the civilian's family the run around every time they (the family) came to the (police) station," the FBI report states. Mims was Warren's supervisor. She told the FBI she should have been notified if he had shot someone. Mims claimed she never read a police report on the shooting. Mims said her conversation with Bell was the first she heard of a man being burned. She told the FBI she "never asked or heard from anyone" about who burned Glover's body. She said that after news of the federal probe broke, she had heard that Special Operations Division officers were responsible for burning Glover, though she didn't hear any names. The FBI report also notes that Mims knew that Bell and officer Linda Howard were "having nightmares and very disturbed by these events." The NOPD had an internal investigator sit through the entire monthlong trial. Much of the testimony should have proved informative for the department: the NOPD had mishandled its own probe, and then abandoned it.

The department opened its criminal investigation into Glover's death after media reports on the case in early 2009. Defillo, then an assistant superintendent, assigned veteran detective Sgt. Gerard Dugue to handle it. Months later, Dugue fell under federal scrutiny for his alleged role in the cover-up of the Danziger shootings -- for which he was eventually charged -- and he stopped his investigation into the Glover killing. The NOPD's probe stalled. The FBI investigation resulted in federal charges in June 2010, and convictions and acquittals in December 2010. The NOPD opened an administrative probe after the federal case closed, and Serpas immediately reassigned or suspended 11 officers. "After receiving a briefing this week by federal authorities regarding the death of Henry Glover, I am presently not comfortable in the ability of these individuals to professionally carry out their police duties as members, or leaders, of this police department pending our full investigative review," Serpas said at the time. The chief said he would treat with utter seriousness any allegations of police misconduct. "We will carefully review any statement made by any employee at any time" in the Glover case, he said. But the department's handling of the Glover investigations has drawn criticism from various quarters, with police groups and attorneys complaining there is a double standard for officers who lied. For instance, Lt. Joseph Meisch, Capt. Jeff Winn and Detective Catherine Beckett were all fired for failing to come forward. Yet officers Bell and Howard -- who acknowledged similar transgressions -- remain on the force. Bell, a government witness who knew of the incident and failed to push the issue with supervisors, was not placed under investigation. She was later arrested for alleged drunk driving; she remains an officer in the NOPD's 4th District. Howard, who saw Warren shoot Glover, also continues to serve in the 4th District. Westbrook said Howard and Bell were not disciplined because they alerted Simmons, who failed to come forward or take action. Simmons, who admitted lying to the grand jury and contradicted herself repeatedly on the stand, retired from the NOPD days before the trial's close. Along with Simmons, two others -- Jeffrey Sandoz and Ronald Ruiz -- admitted at trial that they initially lied to a grand jury or to federal agents before returning to tell the truth. None of the three were charged, though Sandoz and Ruiz retired before the NOPD meted out any punishment. Winn and Beckett were terminated for failing to come forward with information they allegedly had. Both appealed their firings and have filed federal civil lawsuits against the department. Meisch, who testified under a grant of immunity from prosecutors, was also fired. His attorney argued that Meisch didn't know a crime had been committed, and once he did, he cooperated with federal investigators who told him not to speak with his colleagues about the case. • Brendan McCarthy can be reached at or 504.826.3301.

No comments: