New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is looking to settle a slew of civil rights claims against the city stemming from a pair of lawsuits that accuse News Orleans police of committing notorious acts of violence against civilians after Hurricane Katrina 11 years ago.
One of the cases concerns NOPD Officer David Warren, who fatally shot 31-year-old Henry Glover at an Algiers strip mall as he shopped for clothes for his baby. The suit also involves another officer’s attempt to cover up Warren’s crime by torching Glover’s body in a car found along the Mississippi River levee.
Just two days later, New Orleans police shot and killed James Brissette, 17, and mentally disabled man Ronald Madison, 40, on the Danziger Bridge. Both were unarmed. Four others were wounded in the onslaught of police gunfire but survived.
According to The New Orleans Advocate, the police shootings and alleged cover-up resulted in criminal prosecutions and court-ordered police reforms. However, the families of the shooting victims have yet to receive civil damages or any other form of payment from the lawsuits.
But Landrieu said he and his administration are working to rectify the situation. The mayor recently asked the 15 plaintiffs in both cases to document their losses and/or medical expenses and submit their proposed settlement figures, the paper reports. Landrieu said he hopes to find a resolution to the issue by the end of this year.
The mayor also suggested the potential settlements last week during an interview with The New Orleans Advocate. In it, he said he would use a portion of the $20 million earmarked in his recommended budget to pay off the heap of civil suits against the city of New Orleans.
“If we negotiate a settlement, it would be part of the $10 million this year and next year,” Landrieu said.
According to the newspaper, dates with court-appointed mediators have been set for Dec. 14 for the Danzinger plaintiffs, and Dec. 5 for plaintiffs seeking claims concerning Glover’s killing or the alleged police beatings of three people who tried to help the wounded man by rushing him to an emergency police outpost. Five of Henry Glover’s children, his brother, Edward King, and brother-in-law Bernard Calloway are among the complainants.
The lawsuits and subsequent settlements were largely placed on the back burner amid the criminal prosecutions of more than a dozen accused officers. Lengthy appeals followed the criminal proceedings, along with a retrial for Warren that ended with his acquittal for Glover’s killing in 2013, and years of back and forth over a judge’s decision to throw out the convictions of five officers involved in the Danziger Bridge case, the Advocate reports.
All of the court proceedings have been squared away. Sgt. Gerard Dugue, the officer accused of helping cover up the police attack that left the teenage Brissette and Madison lying dead on the Danziger Bridge, is the only remaining criminal defendant in either case.
“The city has expressed a desire to attempt to reach a resolution in both cases,” said lawyer Edwin Shorty, who is representing three of Glover’s children. “We are in the process of getting documentation to the city to help further that resolution.”