NEW YORK — Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward said Friday that he felt shame over allegations that three suspects were tortured at a station house and told his ranking officers to accept their responsibility or "get out."
Only hours later, a fourth man came forward to charge that he had been abused by two officers already charged in the assaults, and a legal aid attorney said he was checking three new complaints of torture at the Queens precinct.
Criminal Charges Possible
Ward, who ordered more than 300 commanding officers to a meeting at police headquarters, said that he would "try to make a criminal case" against a captain and lieutenant who were removed from the 106th Precinct this week.
The commissioner said that he had told the officers, all holding the rank of captain or higher, that "command carries with it accountability, and it's hot in the kitchen. You take it or you get out."
Eighteen officers have been transferred from the precinct. Four officers have been arrested and another suspended in connection with the torture complaints.
The attacks allegedly were made in an attempt to force three men to admit to drug dealings. Ward said the beatings "had racial overtones."
About two hours after Ward's meeting, a man charged that he had been insulted, beaten and shocked with an electric stun gun at the 106th Precinct.
Caesar Cirigliano, chief of the Legal Aid Society's criminal division, charged that Robert Davis, 19, was attacked by two of the officers already suspended, Sgt. Richard A. Pike and Officer Jeffrey W. Gilbert.
Davis, who had been accused of selling marijuana, did not speak but showed reporters three sets of prong marks on his stomach and one set on his back. Cirigliano said that they had been caused by a stun gun.
Police spokesmen referred an inquiry for comment on Davis' allegations to top department officials.
After speaking to his commanders, Ward told reporters that he was freezing all promotions above captain until he and his staff could review the records of those up for promotion.
"I feel shame and disgrace over the series of incidents that have occurred in this city," Ward said. When asked about morale on the force, he replied: "It's not well today because of the disgrace and shame . . . over what a few officers have done."