ProPublica

Behind the Headline: Rebecca Glover

The incinerated body of Rebecca Glover’s nephew Henry was found in 2005 in a burned car on the banks of the Mississippi River. It was roughly a week after Hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans. Following a cursory probe, the Orleans Parish coroner ruled Henry’s death “unclassified,” and no law enforcement agency ever investigated the matter. Outside of his grieving family, no one seemed to know or care about Henry’s death at all.

Get ProPublica’s Major Investigations by Email

“You got so much stuff that was swept under the rug, it’s unbelievable,” Glover said of the indifference from authorities. When ProPublica reporter A.C. Thompson approached the family in 2008, while reporting for his “Law & Disorder” series on deadly force used by the New Orleans Police Department in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, she was heartened. According to ProPublica’s examination of the final hours of Henry’s life, clues about his death pointed to the city’s police force.

“I prayed very hard for him not to give up on it,” Glover said of Thompson’s initial reporting. “If you live in New Orleans long enough, you’ll see people pretend they doing this and that. And, the next thing you know, they ain’t doing nothing.”

Thompson and others stayed on the story for more than three years. Through this sustained reporting, the world found out what happened: Henry was shot by one police officer and died in custody. His body was set on fire by another officer, and the circumstances of the case were covered up by yet another police official. Five officers were initially convicted on charges that included manslaughter, lying to federal agents, and burning Henry’s body — though all but one were cleared of all charges on appeal.

While grateful for the attention the case received after ProPublica’s reporting, Glover is disappointed by the four overturned convictions. “The stories made a whole lot of difference to our family, but I feel we got 10 percent of justice,” she said. “And we still have victims out there that have gotten no justice at all.”

Today, Glover is a leader in a community organization called Families Overcoming Justice, which meets once a week to share and hear testimony from New Orleans families that have experienced police brutality. “We’re letting other families know they’re not alone,” she said. “We’re there for each other.”

More from ProPublica

ProPublica3 min readPolitics
Three Ways Chicago’s City Council Keeps Its Committees Out of the Public Eye
by Logan Jaffe This week, we went deep into the inner workings of Chicago’s City Council and how its 16 legislative committees often fail to provide basic oversight of city government. Storie
ProPublica2 min readPolitics
ProPublica Builds Washington News Staff With Three Journalists
by ProPublica ProPublica announced Friday three additions to its expanding reporting team on the federal government. J. David McSwane and Yeganeh Torbati are joining ProPublica’s Washington o
ProPublica5 min readPolitics
A False Answer, a Big Political Connection and $260 Million in Tax Breaks
by Nancy Solomon, WNYC, and Jeff Pillets A company that won the second-largest tax break in New Jersey history gave a false answer about being prohibited from working with a federal agency in