2 more New York policemen charged in brutality case
Giuliani plans neighborhood-police talks
August 18, 1997
Web posted at: 6:28 p.m. EDT (2228 GMT)
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Two more New York police officers were
arrested Monday in the alleged assault of Haitian immigrant
Abner Louima, bringing the number of policemen taken into
custody to four. Also Monday, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani
announced plans for intense discussions between police
officers and the neighborhoods they serve.
An attorney for Louima said his client planned to sue the
city for $55 million, and the Justice Department
announced it was launching a federal civil rights
In the latest arrests, New York Police Commissioner Howard
Safir said 70th Precinct officers Thomas Wiese, 33, and
Thomas Bruder, 31, were charged with second- and third-degree
assault and criminal possession of a weapon -- a police
radio they allegedly beat Louima with while he was in their
Wiese had previously been named in published reports as one
of two officers who came forward with information about what
he saw during the August 9 attack.
Wiese's partner, Charles Schwarz, 31, had already been
charged in the attack, as had a fourth officer, 25-year-old
Five officers suspended; others reassigned
Wiese and Bruder are accused of actions that allegedly took
place before Louima was taken to the 70th Precinct station,
Safir told a news conference. All four policemen and another
sergeant have been suspended in the case, and 13 officers
have had their work assignments modified, Safir said.
"This investigation is by no means over, and we will continue
to place every aspect of this case under the closest
scrutiny," he added. "There can be no place in this police
department for anybody who would commit or condone any acts
that took place in this investigation."
He would not discuss details of the probe, including details
of the two officers' alleged involvement. Both Wiese and
Bruder had had prior unsubstantiated civilian complaints
filed against them.
Schwarz, Volpe indicted
Indictments were unsealed Monday accusing Schwarz and Volpe
of aggravated sexual abuse and first-degree assault. If
convicted, they could face a maximum sentence of life in
The indictments say Volpe and Schwarz attacked Louima with
their fists, then attacked him with "forcible compulsion with
a wooden stick," District Attorney Charles Hynes said Monday.
The prosecutor also said Volpe "was seen wearing gloves,"
which were recovered and are being tested for DNA.
Schwarz's attorney, Stephen Worth, said Monday that his
client was "falsely accused." Schwarz was released on
$100,000 bail. Volpe was to be arraigned later Monday.
Volpe's 26-year-old girlfriend, who is black, denied he could
have been involved in a racially motivated assault.
"Justin a racist? Impossible," she was quoted in Monday's
Louima: Policemen screamed racial slurs
Louima, a 30-year-old private security guard, said he was
arrested while trying to break up a fight outside a
nightclub. He claims the officers dragged him to the precinct
restroom, where an officer held him down and another
sodomized him with the wooden handle of a plunger.
During the attack, he said, policemen screamed racial slurs,
and at one point shouted, "This is Giuliani time, not Dinkins
time," a reference to the current mayor's predecessor, David
N. Dinkins, New York's first black mayor.
Louima remained in intensive care, recovering from a tear to
his colon and a laceration to his bladder; he now requires a
catheter and colostomy bag.
Mayor wants community-police talks
Following Safir's comments, Giuliani said he planned to
initiate discussions between New York residents and police
officers, so any public criticism can be aired openly and the
police can respond.
'But the reality is -- and I think
even some of the critics of the police department that I
spoke to today certainly believe -- that the
overwhelming majority of police officers are good people
doing a good job.'
New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani
Ultimately, Giuliani said, he wants the talks to involve
"every single police officer in the city of New York." By
the end of the talks, he hopes police officers will treat
colleagues who criminally abuse their power like criminals --
and that when officers are falsely accused, the community
will stand with them "against the bad people of the city."
"The fact is that both the police and the communities in New
York are suffering from the same kind of group blame, group
dynamic," Giuliani said.
"But the reality is -- and I think even some of the critics
of the police department that I spoke to today certainly
believe -- that the overwhelming majority of police officers
are good people doing a good job," and most police officers
also believe most New Yorkers are good people, he said.
"So we're essentially letting the worst determine the
Safir, who is threatening to fire anyone who withholds
information, said Sunday that he put all 700 members of his
department's Internal Affairs Bureau to work investigating
the charges. Giuliani credited the first officer to come
forward last week for performing a heroic act.
In comments directed at officers who have not aided the
investigation, the mayor said, "There's no point in coming
forward if you're not going to tell the truth. You might as
well let us just try to find you, proceed against you and
either prosecute you or throw you out of the department."