Torture Suit Reaches $9M Settlement
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NEW YORK (AP) _ A $9 million tentative settlement has been reached in a lawsuit brought by Abner Louima, the Haitian immigrant tortured in a police station in 1997, sources close to the case said Thursday.
Under the proposal, Louima would receive payment from the city and the Police Benevolent Association but would drop his demand for reform in the way the New York Police Department deals with officers accused of crimes, the sources told The Associated Press.
The sources, who insisted on anonymity, confirmed a report about the agreement in Thursday’s Daily News.
The proposed settlement was being circulated this week among lawyers to get signatures from their clients. Barring any disagreement, the parties will meet Wednesday in federal court to finalize the deal.
An attorney for Louima, Sanford Rubenstein, and a PBA spokesman, Joe Mancini, declined to discuss the case, citing a gag order. An attorney for the city, Lawrence Kahn, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
If finalized, the settlement would close one of the ugliest chapters in the department’s history; the resulting scandal sparked angry protests and led to convictions of six officers.
In three criminal trials, Louima testified about an ordeal stemming from his arrest in a street brawl outside a nightclub on Aug. 9, 1997. Charges against Louima were later dropped.
The prisoner was handcuffed and taken to the precinct. Once there, Officer Justin Volpe _ mistakenly believing Louima had punched him _ sought revenge by sodomizing Louima with a broken broomstick and threatening to kill him if he reported it.
Volpe, who pleaded guilty, is serving 30 years. A jury found a second patrolman, Charles Schwarz, guilty of pinning Louima down during the assault; four other officers were convicted of lying to authorities about what happened.
Louima sued for $155 million in 1998, claiming officers at Brooklyn’s 70th Precinct conspired to create a ``blue wall of silence and lies to obstruct justice.″ The suit charged police and officials with the powerful PBA with condoning an ``environment in which the most violent police officers believed they would be insulated″ from prosecution.
The assault _ combined with the 1999 death of African immigrant Amadou Diallo in a hail of 41 police bullets _ fueled a series of demonstrations alleging widespread use of excessive force by officers, especially against minorities. Diallo’s family has filed an $81 million wrongful death suit against the city; that case is pending.