Sunday, August 19, 2007

Abner Louima: Victim Looks Back on Infamous NYPD Torture Case

Victim Looks Back on Infamous NYPD Torture Case

Abner Louima hopes remembering the case can prevent future police violence


NEW YORK -- A decade after a Haitian immigrant was tortured in a police station bathroom by police officers, the victim, along with a leading civil rights activist and others were to gather this week to reflect on the attack that sparked protests across the city.

The Aug. 9, 1997, attack on Abner Louima was one of the New York Police Department's darkest hours, spurring calls for police reforms and straining minority relations with the department and then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a current Republican presidential hopeful.

Louima was beaten and sodomized with a broomstick by white officers after he was arrested in a brawl outside a Brooklyn nightclub. He suffered a ruptured bladder and colon and spent two months in the hospital. Charges against him were dropped.

The attack led to prison terms for two officers and the largest settlement ever in a police brutality case in New York. The city and police union agreed to pay Louima $8.7 million, which came to about $5.8 million after legal fees

Civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton on planned to discuss the ongoing issue of police brutality and appraise Giuliani's response to the Louima case during the gathering Thursday evening, his office said.

The NYPD had no immediate comment. A spokeswoman for Giuliani did not immediately return a cell phone message.

In the wake of the assault, officer Justin Volpe pleaded guilty to civil rights violations and is serving a 30-year prison sentence. Officer Charles Schwarz pleaded guilty to perjury for helping cover up the assault and served a five-year term.

"We are men, humans, who gave in to our dark side — but in the end just men," Volpe told the Daily News by letter for a story published Monday.

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