5 N.Y. Cops Charged In Beating

Five white New York City police officers were indicted Thursday on federal charges of violating the civil rights of Abner Louima, the Haitian immigrant allegedly beaten and sodomized in a police station.

The indictment also alleges that officers violated the civil rights of a second Haitian immigrant, Patrick Antoine, who was held at the stationhouse the same night.

The 12-count indictment includes conspiracy charges against four officers, Justin Volpe, Charles Schwarz, Thomas Wiese and Thomas Bruder. The fifth officer named in the federal indictment is Michael Bellomo, a sergeant, accused of helping the other four cover up crimes.
As in a similar state indictment, Bruder, Volpe, Wiese and Schwarz are charged with assaulting Louima in a police car after his arrest outside a nightclub Aug. 9.

Volpe and Schwarz also are charged with attacking Louima in the bathroom at the 70th Precinct stationhouse, kicking him and shoving a stick into his rectum and mouth while his hands were cuffed behind his back.

Louima was hospitalized for months with severe internal injuries.

The federal indictment also accuses Volpe of witness tampering by threatening Louima not to tell anyone about being assaulted.

And Volpe and Bellomo are charged with conspiring to falsely arrest Antoine and with trying "to conceal an unlawful assault of Patrick Antoine by the defendant Justin Volpe."

Bruder and Bellomo also are charged with lying about the arrest to the FBI when questioned in October.

Antoine has said he was arrested and beaten by cops at the same time as Louima, but these are the first charges filed arising from the claim.

The assault charges police brought against Louima and Antoine were later dropped.

The district attorney said the top state punishments are seven years for the assault charges and 25 years for sodomy.

The federal civil rights and sex assault charges carry possible life sentences. The charges against Bellomo are punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Police Commissioner Howard Safir said the federal charges "serve to demonstrate that the New York City Police Department cannot tolerate any misconduct by any of its members."

Written by Tim Whitmire
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