NOPD officer cleared of role in Glover case wants job back

A former New Orleans police lieutenant wants his badge back with back pay after federal prosecutors dropped the charges against him in the alleged cover-up of Henry Glover’s burning and fatal shooting.

The officer, Travis McCabe, had been accused of doctoring a police report to make it seem former Officer David Warren was justified when he fatally shot Glover four days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall.

McCabe’s career in law enforcement seemed to be over after he was convicted in December 2010, but he was granted a new trial after a federal judge ruled that an early draft of the police report, discovered after the trial, would likely have produced an acquittal in the case.

He was set to be retried March 10, but federal prosecutors abruptly dismissed the case last week.

“He wants to come back,” said attorney Eric Hessler, who represents McCabe before the Civil Service Commission. “He’s always maintained his innocence in this and said he did the right thing, and I think he’s been vindicated.”

The Police Department fired McCabe in February 2011 for “obstruction of a federal investigation” and making false statements to the FBI and a grand jury, according to court documents. But McCabe’s termination was rooted entirely in his criminal conviction, Hessler said.

“They did no independent investigation, and they accused him of no other wrongdoing,” Hessler said. “So once that falls and is proven not to be legal cause, he has a right to his employment back.”

Remi Braden, a Police Department spokeswoman, declined to comment Monday on whether the department would oppose McCabe’s reinstatement.

Hessler said he petitioned the Civil Service Commission last year to reinstate McCabe after U.S. District Court Judge Lance Africk overturned his conviction in May 2011. In April, the commission decided to withhold ruling until McCabe’s criminal case was adjudicated.

“They’ll probably rule on this motion whenever I can get it back on the docket,” Hessler said, adding that a hearing could be held as soon as next week. “We were always confident that the new evidence would clear him, but nevertheless, the Civil Service Commission decided to wait and see what the outcome would be.”

Eleven NOPD officers lost their jobs as a result of the Glover investigation. They either were fired, quit or retired in the face of likely termination. The NOPD last fall reinstated one officer, former homicide Detective Catherine Beckett, who challenged her termination in federal court.

Both McCabe and Officer Greg McRae, who was convicted of burning Glover’s body in a car on the Algiers levee behind the 4th District police station, were fired after their convictions. A few of the officers who left the force testified for the government, but they also acknowledged initially lying to an FBI agent or the federal grand jury.

Several of those who left on their own or were fired were supervisors at the time.

Former Lt. Joseph Meisch, for example, was fired after he acknowledged in trial testimony seeing two officers, including McRae, leaving the scene of a fire behind the levee. Meisch also testified that a couple of days later he went up on the levee and saw human remains in a charred car. After reading news reports about the ongoing federal investigation into what happened to Glover, Meisch reported what he saw to the FBI. But he was fired for failing to report within the NOPD what he saw in September 2005 in a “timely fashion,” according to a Civil Service Commission decision upholding the termination.

Prosecutors’ decision to dismiss the charges against McCabe last week came as little surprise after Warren, the officer who shot Glover, was acquitted during a retrial late last year. But McCabe’s trial attorney, J. Michael Small, said he believed the decision had more to do with credibility problems the prosecution had with three primary witnesses.

“He knows he’s innocent and has always felt that the government should have declined to try that case again,” Small said. “He has an extremely long-standing work ethic, and he’s a guy who’s going to work at something no matter what.”

Advocate staff writer Laura Maggi contributed to this report.