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NYPD Blue — One officer convicted for torture

NEW YORK, June 9: Closing one of the worst chapters of police brutality in New York's history, a federal jury convicted one police office...

NEW YORK, June 9: Closing one of the worst chapters of police brutality in New York’s history, a federal jury convicted one police officer and acquitted three others in the beating and torture of a Haitian immigrant on Tuesday.

Officer Charles Schwarz (32), who was convicted of beating and sexually assaulting Abner Louima in the bathroom of the 70th Precinct Station House in Brooklyn, could face life in prison.

Schwarz was charged with holding Louima down as another officer, Justin Volpe (27), sodomized him with a stick.

Last month Volpe pled guilty to violating Louima’s civil rights for the beating and sodomy, after damning testimony from four police officers. Sergeant Kenneth Warwick gave a detailed account of Volpe brandishing a stick covered with excrement, bragging that he used it to sodomize Louima.Volpe also faces life in prison for the beating and torture which Left Louima with a perforated rectum and bladder, triggering outrage among the city’s black population and charges of brutality againstthe five white officers.

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Meanwhile, officers Thomas Bruder (32), and Thomas Wiese (35) were acquitted of beating Louima in a squad car after his arrest outside a Brooklyn disco on August, 1997. A fifth officer, Michael Bellomo, was acquitted of covering up the beating.

Louima spoke briefly with the mediapersons after the verdict at the office of his attorney Johnny Cochran. Cochran has filed a 10 million dollar civil suit for Louima against the city of New York and the New York Police Department.

In a shaking voice, Louima said that the “verdict was not everything” he wanted it to be, but he was “confident that in the end Justice will be done.” “What happened to me should not happen to any human being,” he said.

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Wiese, Bruder and Bellomo greeted their acquittals with relief, but expressed shock and sadness over the conviction of their colleague. A visibly shaken Bruder openly wept in court as his “not guilty” verdict was read along side of Schwarz’s “guilty” one.

“I acted like aprofessional that night,” a teary-eyed Bruder told mediapersons after the verdict. “I treated Louima like a gentleman.”“It is a bittersweet victory,” said Joseph Tacopina, attorney for Wiese, adding that his client “feels vindicated, but other things happened to wreak havoc on us all.”

“It is not a happy day,” he added. Schwarz’s attorney Stephen Worth said that he will “keep on fighting” for his client, and plans to appeal the verdict.

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The appeal may focus on the fact that the prosecution failed to allow testimony offered about the officer’s presence, or lack there of, in the station house bathroom with Volpe. Sources said that Volpe, Wiese and other officers told prosecutors that Schwarz was not in the bathroom during the time Volpe sodomized Louima.

First published on: 10-06-1999 at 12:00:00 am
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