A New Orleans police officer recently admitted in federal court to setting a man’s body on fire following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 after another policeman shot and killed him.
According to the Associated Press, Officer Gregory McRae testified on Nov. 29 that he set the body of 31-year-old Henry Glover on fire after his colleague, former officer David Warren, killed him outside a strip mall during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
McRae was testifying in his own defense in a trial in federal court in New Orleans where he and three other New Orleans police officers face charges in connection with the shooting, assault and cover-up of police power abuses in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane that devasted the region in 2005.
Pressed by U.S. District Court Judge Lance Africk for an explanatiojn of his actions., McRae responded: “I had reached a point, your honor, where I was tired of smelling putrid human rotten flesh,” he said.?
“I was exposed to so much death, so many bodies,” McRae said in court, according to the AP. “I had seen enough rot.”
McRae and Lt. Dwyane Schuermann are also charged with beating individuals who were trying to help Glover after he had been shot and who drove him to a nearby school that police were using as a makeshift station. McRae denied those allegations.
McRae was ordered by one of his superiors to remove the car with Glover’s body from the school. He said he then drove the car to a wooded area nearby and tossed a flare into the vehicle. When that didn’t work, he shot out the rear window of the car so it could ventilate. Shortly thereafter, the car began to burn.
“I lit one flare and threw it into the vehicle,” McRae said in his testimony, according to The New Orleans’s Times-Picayune.
Scheuermann followed McRae to the area in a truck but didn’t know he intended to burn the car. Asked why he set the car ablaze McRae responded, “I wasn’t going to let it rot.”
While McRae said he is aware that burning the body made it appear as if he was attempting to hinder homicide investigations, he said that wasn’t his intention.
Warren faces charges of shooting Glover without warrant, and said in previous testimony that he shot Glover because he felt threatened as Glover was running towards him.
Police Lt. Travis McCabe and former Lt. Robert Italiano also face charges of obstruction of the Justice Department’s probe of Glover’s death. All of the officers have pleaded not guilty.
According to the Times-Picayune, suspicions about the nature of Glover’s death began to arise in 2008. The FBI opened an investigation into the matter in February 2009 and the officers were charged in June 2010. McRae’s testimony is scheduled to resume on Dec. 7.