Convictions in NYC Police Torture Case Overturned
The Second U.S. Court of Appeals announced that there was not enough evidence that the three white officers, Charles Schwarz, Thomas Bruder and Thomas Wiese had obstructed justice.
Schwarz’s conviction for violating Louima’s rights was also thrown out because it was ruled he had been denied effective counsel in his original trial. The court determined that the jury was exposed to prejudicial information during deliberations.
Schwarz, who had been sentenced to 15 years in prison for holding Louima down while another officer attacked him, will get a new trial for violating the Haitian immigrant’s civil rights.
Officers Wiese and Bruder had been convicted of obstruction of justice for covering up Schwarz’s role in the assault.
Abner Louima was tortured in a police station bathroom after he was arrested following a fight at a Brooklyn nightclub on Aug. 9, 1997. According to prosecutors, he was handcuffed, held down, and sodomized with a broomstick.
Today’s ruling does not affect Officer Justin Volpe’s guilty plea. Volpe, who admitted abusing Louima with the broomstick, is serving a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.
The four white police officers were convicted on criminal charges in a 1999 federal trial.
The racially charged case drew protest from the city’s black and Hispanic residents, who said the New York City police force unfairly targeted them in a bid to crack down on crime.