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2 More Arrested in N.Y. Police Brutality Case

August 19, 1997|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — Two more officers were arrested Monday in a widening investigation into the alleged assault of a Haitian immigrant, who announced he will sue the city and police department for $55 million.

U.S. Atty. Zachary Carter said the Justice Department's civil rights division will join his office and Brooklyn Dist. Atty. Charles Hynes in investigating.

The federal investigation will focus on whether Abner Louima's civil rights were violated in the Aug. 9 attack in which he said he was sodomized with a toilet plunger in a police precinct bathroom.

"One or more police officers are alleged to have committed an act of almost incomprehensible depravity within a police precinct and with the apparent expectation that they would get away with it," Carter told reporters.

Louima, a 30-year-old security guard, said officers using racial slurs shoved the handle of the plunger into his rectum and his mouth. He said they threatened to kill him and his family if he screamed or told what happened.

He remained hospitalized Monday with a torn colon and other injuries. His lawyer, Sanford Rubinstein, announced the lawsuit.

Louima's attackers could face up to life in prison if convicted of federal charges. Other officers who were aware of the assault also could face federal charges, Carter said.

Two officers, Justin Volpe and Charles Schwarz, were arrested last week and arraigned Monday on state assault and sexual-abuse charges. They pleaded not guilty and were freed on $100,000 bail.

Volpe "was seen wearing gloves" that were recovered and are being tested for DNA, Hynes said. Officials allege that Volpe is the one who sodomized Louima.

Arrested Monday were officers Thomas Wiese and Thomas Bruder. Both were charged with assault and criminal possession of a weapon--a police radio with which they allegedly beat Louima in their patrol car.

Wiese, 33, an eight-year NYPD veteran, was the subject of two civilian complaints of excessive force in 1991 and 1994, both unproved. Bruder, 31, an officer since 1994, had two unsubstantiated force complaints in 1995.

Louima was allegedly attacked after his arrest for disorderly conduct in a scuffle with police outside a Brooklyn nightclub, officials said. The charges have since been dropped.

At the 70th Precinct, where Louima was taken after his arrest, 18 officers have been disciplined and the commander has been transferred.

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