A former New Orleans police officer who was convicted three years ago of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a man after Hurricane Katrina was found not guilty Wednesday by a second jury.
"I took the action I had to take," David Warren told reporters after the verdict. "I still believe the actions I took that day were the proper actions."
Warren, 50 — who served more than three years in prison in the death of Henry Glover, 31, in September 2005 — was acquitted of civil rights and firearm charges in federal court in Metairie, La. His 26-year sentence from his manslaughter conviction was overturned on appeal last year, leading to the retrial.
The initial conviction had been seen as a sign that New Orleans was moving on after the deep divisions Katrina exposed in the community. When the acquittal was announced Wednesday, Glover's friends and relatives erupted, crying and screaming about what they said was an injustice.
Warren was escorted out of the courthouse to freedom by U.S. marshals for his own safety.
Warren shot Glover with a rifle as he was guarding a police substation after the historic hurricane devastated New Orleans. Another officer burned Glover's body in a car. He was initially tried along with four other former officers, who were accused of covering up Glover's death.
Warren and two of the other former officers were convicted, but the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year ruled that he should have been tried separately.
As he did during his first trial, Warren testified Monday that he feared for his life when he shot Glover because he thought he saw a gun in Glover's hand. Prosecutors said Glover wasn't armed and didn't pose a threat.
"I do not have regrets. I still feel I acted properly," Warren told reporters.
The acquittal came about an hour after jurors resumed deliberating Wednesday. They'd told U.S. District Judge Lance Africk late Tuesday that they were deadlocked, but Africk ordered them to deliberate as long as necessary.
"It was a hard case to prosecute, because in this particular case the jury couldn't hear about" the alleged cover-up, Robert C. Jenkins, a prominent New Orleans criminal defense attorney, told NBC station WDSU. "There are no winners here."
Federal authorities can't bring criminal charges against Warren again in the case, but the verdict doesn't affect civil litigation against him.
Watch US News crime videos on NBCNews.com
First published December 11 2013, 9:55 PM