NEW ORLEANS – A retired New Orleans police lieutenant accused of obstructing a federal probe of a deadly police shooting after Hurricane Katrina admitted Wednesday that he "made mistakes," but denied trying to cover up the shooting up or lie to the FBI about the case.
Robert Italiano oversaw the detectives' bureau in the district where 31-year-old Henry Glover was fatally shot by an officer outside a strip mall on Sept. 2, 2005, before two other officers allegedly burned Glover's body in a car.
Italiano and Lt. Travis McCabe are charged with writing and submitting a false report to impede the federal probe of Glover's death.
But Italiano testified at his trial that he didn't do anything to falsify a report and insists he told the FBI the truth about what he knew about the case.
"I've never covered up anything for a police officer in 37 years," said Italiano, 61, who retired from the department in 2006.
He is one of five current or former officers charged in Glover's death being tried in federal court. A former officer, David Warren, is charged with shooting Glover without justification. Lt. Dwayne Scheuermann and Officer Gregory McRae are charged with burning Glover's body and beating men who took Glover to a school that police were using after the storm.
Italiano said he heard a radio call on the morning of Sept. 2, 2005, that an officer had shot a weapon. A couple minutes later, he heard a call that a body was found in a car at the school.
Italiano said he and his commanding officer, Capt. David Kirsch, drove to the school because they thought there might be a connection. But he said he changed his mind once he was told that the man in the car had been shot at an apartment complex, not the strip mall.
"Nobody was saying a police officer had shot him," Italiano said.
However, Sgt. Purnella "Nina" Simmons has testified that she told Italiano at the school that Warren shot someone at the strip mall and that the body in the car may be that man. Italiano denied she told him that.
"If I had all the information, I might have connected everything," he said. "If Nina Simmons had told the truth, we wouldn't be here."