Mrs. Elouise Williams could not have been happier when she heard the news that three current and two former members of the New Orleans Police Department had been indicted for the post-Katrina murder of Henry Glover, a victim whose charred remains were found in a burned car on an Algiers levee that is near a police station.
According to earlier published reports, New Orleans police were using a West Bank school as a temporary headquarters on Sept. 2, 2005, when a group of men drove up seeking assistance for 31-year-old Henry Glover, who had been shot.
One of the men reportedly told investigators that Glover was still in the back seat when a police officer drove off with his car. That was the last time the men saw Glover alive.
On June 11, a federal grand jury returned an 11-count federal indictment charging three current and two former NOPD) officers in connection with the police-involved shooting of Henry Glover.
Former NOPD officer David Warren, former NOPD Lieutenant Robert Italiano, NOPD Lieutenants Dwayne Scheuermann and Travis McCabe, and officer Gregory McRae are charged with crimes in connection with the Sept. 2, 2005, shooting and killing of Glover, the subsequent burning of his body in a car, the assault of civilians who tried to help Glover, and various offenses related to a cover-up of the incident.
"I am so happy," Williams, who is a West Bank resident and friend of one of Glover's aunts, told The Louisiana Weekly.
"I was not surprised," she added. "I was just leery that there were going to be a few that were going to walk away even though they know they were guilty of doing this to this young man and many more. I was leery that they were going to let them walk and they were going to be able to continue carrying out their little charade of killing people and hiding their hands.
"I can say, if it wasn't for the Danziger Bridge and Glover cases, many cold cases would still be cold cases," Williams continued. "They would still be trying to cover them up and not bring these officers to justice who play a role in harming citizens in New Orleans."
Williams says the murder of Henry Glover struck a chord within her since her own son, Mark Louis Williams, was killed by New Orleans police in 1983.
Williams said that while she is grateful for some of the high-profile cases involving NOPD killings and the light they have shone on a corrupt police department, she is concerned about the large number of cases involving low-income New Orleans families who do not have the financial wherewithal to pursue justice in the courts.
"What about the poor people? What about justice for them?" she said recently. "Who's going to fight for them and take up their cases?"
Williams says that she and Henry Glover's aunt developed a strong bond over the years as both families lost loved ones to violence. "When we learned about what had happened to Henry Glover, it devastated all of us because it brought back memories of the death of my son Mark's death," Williams told The Louisiana Weekly. "It was like re-opening an old wound.
Attorney Danatus King, president of the New Orleans branch of the NAACP, says that it is his understanding that the five indictments handed down in the Glover case were the result of the Justice Department's involvement in the case. While he said he is pleased that federal investigators are taking such an active role in the case, he is also curious as to why Washington appears to have played a greater role in this case than U.S. Attorney Jim Letten's office.
King says he is concerned that "what has happened in the Danziger case is going to happen in the Glover case.
"We are particularly concerned about deals being cut resulting in lesser charges being maintained against those defendants other than the actual murder charges," he explained.
"That's become a trend in the Danziger case and obviously that's a concern that it will happen again in the Glover case."
While some have expressed concern about what will happen if the NOPD officers that have been indicted in both cases stand trial outside of Orleans Parish, King says that he believes justice will prevail.
"From what's been released to this point, from the confessions of officers involved in the Danziger case and the evidence that's been released to this point in the Glover case, I think that there's sufficient evidence that no matter how biased a jury was, that murder convictions could still be attained," King said. "The evidence is that strong. Moving the trials could result in getting a jury that could be more pro-defendants, but I think there's still a strong possibility of getting a murder conviction."
The Glover killing is one of eight cases the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating that involves the New Orleans Police Department.
Julian Murray, a former federal prosecutor, told WDSU News in March that the Justice Dept. probably decided to launch more investigations once news of a cover-up broke in the Danziger Bridge case.
"Once the FBI sees cover-ups, they start looking at other cases by the police," Murray said.
NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas said recently that he intends to cooperate fully with the Justice Department as it seeks to overhaul the New Orleans Police Department.
A civil suit was filed on June 8 in federal court against Warren, McRae and Dwayne Schueremann by Charlene Green, the mother of Glover's son, Henry Glover Jr. While the suit claims that Glover was the victim of civil rights violations, it does not provide specifics about what happened on the day of Glover's death.
"It sounds as if the continuous system of racism and white supremacy is being supported through what's called justifiable homicide in which people of color are being killed by trigger-happy policemen," Ramessu Merriamen Aha, a former Congres sional candidate and former host of "The Ramesseum" on Harambeeradio.com, told The Louisiana Weekly. "While it's getting a lot of attention in New Orleans, it's happening all over the nation and the world.
"It's very disturbing when we hear that the people who are dressed in uniform and are permitted to carry guns and are charged with the duty to protect and service the public are abusing that power and the public trust," Aha continued. "Whatever crime is involved, you just never know what is going to happen to you if you are arrested or if there's a situation that escalates beyond a simple investigation or an arrest. It's very frustrating. That's why there's a need for communities of color to always exhibit impeccable behavior."
Mrs. Elouise Williams has a message for the Justice Department as it tries to determine how many additional cold cases involving killings by members of the NOPD it will take on: "It's bigger than this, so they have to do a larger network of reaching out to this city and looking at the big picture," she said. "There is more to come, more to be heard and more that they have to work with because these people have been murdering people for years.
"They have gotten away with it because they wore the badge and had a uniform," she continued. "The 'protecting and serving' went out of the window because they were only protecting and serving themselves. My thing is, 'Come on, because Pandora's Box hasn't been completely opened yet; there's more to come.'
"'...You got to go back to (former Orleans Parish D.A.) Harry Connick, you got to go back to (former NOPD Supt.) Warren Wood fork, you got to go back to all of them who were in sync for 25 to 30 years and saw this escalating to this point and thought nothing of it.' They looked at it and said, 'Well, these were officers; they can do that.' No, that was not what you were hired for; you were hired to protect and serve and if your mentality was not about protecting and serving, somebody should have checked you out."
Ramessu Merriamen Aha applauded the efforts of Community United for Change last week and said that in addition to the indictments that have already been filed against members of the New Orleans Police Department, the community is drawing strength and inspiration from CUFC's efforts to get the families of loved ones killed by the police to come forward and share their stories with others.
"There's something powerful and empowering about sharing one's story with the community," he said. "There is strength and power in numbers and as the number of residents willing to speak publicly about these killings continues to increase, people are beginning to understand that they no longer have to suffer in silence or settle for being mistreated by men and women whose sworn duty it is to protect and serve them.
"The very act of lifting up one's voice against injustice is both revolutionary and liberating."
"I'm happy to have every investigator that is here and looking at all of these cases," Williams said. "After the Glover case, there are going to be many more cases because police have been getting away with killing Black people for a long time. I'm just grateful that the truth is finally coming to light."
NAACP president Danatus King agreed that it is of critical importance that New Orleans residents with information to share about wrongful deaths involving the NOPD pass along that information to the FBI.
"It's extremely important that those facts are shared because what the Justice Department is doing is actually crafting a remedy," King told The Louisiana Weekly. "Just to use an analogy, if someone has a wound or cut and that cut is bleeding, the doctor will need to treat it based on the information he or she has. If the doctor thinks it is a minor cut, he will treat it differently than a deeper wound. That's the same situation that we have with the police department: Unless the Justice Department knows the true extent and magnitude of the problems that we have with the department, any remedy such as a consent decree that it creates won't be sufficient or effective unless the problem is properly assessed.
"It's important that all of the stories come out," King continued. "A year ago, a lot of people in New Orleans would not have believed that the corruption in the department was so pervasive that there could be a cover-up that would last four years. Folks may have admitted that maybe there were one or two corrupt officers on the force, but only at a lower level. But now since the recent revelations, I don't think there is anyone that has been following the news that would deny that the corruption goes much deeper than originally thought by the general population. Therefore, folks would be more demanding of a remedy that goes deeper than just removing one or two low-level officers.
"It's extremely important that the full extent of the problem is made known and the only way that can be done is by having the voices come out. That's what needed."
Community United For Change held another meeting Thursday evening at Muhammad Mosque in eastern New Orleans to allow more residents to come forward and share their experiences concerning loved ones who have been killed by members of the NOPD.
Elouise Williams and other members of the community gathered Sunday, June 20, at a special memorial on Father's Day in Cutoff Park, 6600 Belgarde Street, from 11:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m to remember all the lives lost to senseless violence, whether at the hands of police or civilians. It was the sixth year they have paused to publicly remember their slain loved ones.
Asked how far back the FBI should go to nab present and former cops accused of wrongfully killing someone in New Orleans, Ramessu Merriamen Aha said, "When it comes to murder, there's no statute of limitations."