NYPD On Trial

Abner Louima told a Brooklyn jury Monday he can't positively identify one of two officers accused of torturing him in a police station bathroom.

But the Haitian immigrant stuck by his story.

Asked to look at defendant Charles Schwarz at the brutality trial of four New York City police officers, Louima said the officer resembled the one who dragged him into the bathroom. But, he added, "I'm not sure."

Schwarz's attorney, Stephen Worth, seized the chance to invoke Louima's admission that he had lied when he told investigators and the media that he heard one attacking officer say, "It's Giuliani time," a reference to the aggressive policing policies of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

"Isn't it true, Mr. Louima, that your second man in that bathroom is another `Giuliani time,' another way that you want to raise the attention of the country on this case?" Worth asked.

"No, sir," Louima responded.

The exchange was part of a relentless cross-examination of Louima by four defense lawyers Monday, his second day on the witness stand. He is to resume testifying Wednesday; Tuesday's testimony was canceled because a juror was ill.

Schwarz and three other officers are charged with taking turns beating Louima because they mistakenly believed he had punched one of them, Justin Volpe, in a melee outside a Brooklyn nightclub on Aug. 9, 1997.

Volpe and Schwarz are additionally charged with the bathroom attack that same night at Brooklyn's 70th Precinct station house. The other officers are Thomas Bruder and Thomas Wiese; a fifth officer, Michael Bellomo, is charged with covering up the assault.

Louima last week identified Volpe as the officer who allegedly rammed a broken broomstick into his rectum, causing severe internal injuries. The officer, he said, "told me if I ever talk to anyone about what happened to me, he would kill me and everybody in my family."

The case, which involves a black victim and five white officers, has strained relations between the police department and minorities.

On Monday, Volpe's attorney, Marvyn Kornberg, suggested Louima changed his story to support a lawsuit filed on his behalf by O.J. Simpson's former lawyers Johnnie Cochran Jr., Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld.

"Has your memory gotten better since you retained Mr. Cochran, Mr. Scheck and Mr. Neufeld in a $155 million lawsuit?" Kornberg asked.

"No, sir," Louima replied.

The attorney had confronted Louima with his 1997 statement to a state grand jury that no other officer was holding him down as Volpe sodomized him. Last week, Louima testified that a second officer, identified by authorities as Schwarz, restrained him by grabbing the chain of his handcuffs.

Louima, 32, also testified Volpe was the officer who hit him in the head with a police radio, contradicting grand jury testimony in which he couldn't identify the attacker.

Louima insistd his trial testimony was more accurate than past statements, many of which were made while he was still in the hospital and on medication.

"Now I am not really worried too much about my health," he said. "I'm more peaceful. I have a better chance to think."