ad info




CNN.com
 MAIN PAGE
 WORLD
* U.S.
 LOCAL
 POLITICS
 WEATHER
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 TECHNOLOGY
 SPACE
 HEALTH
 ENTERTAINMENT
 BOOKS
 TRAVEL
 FOOD
 ARTS & STYLE
 NATURE
 IN-DEPTH
 ANALYSIS
 myCNN

 Headline News brief
 news quiz
 daily almanac

  MULTIMEDIA:
 video
 video archive
 audio
 multimedia showcase
 more services

  E-MAIL:
Subscribe to one of our news e-mail lists.
Enter your address:
Or:
Get a free e-mail account

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 AsiaNow
 En Español
 Em Português
 Svenska
 Norge
 Danmark
 Italian

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 TIME INC. SITES:
 CNN NETWORKS:
Networks image
 more networks
 transcripts

 SITE INFO:
 help
 contents
 search
 ad info
 jobs

 WEB SERVICES:

US

30-year sentence for N.Y. policeman in torture of black man

December 13, 1999
Web posted at: 6:13 p.m. EST (2313 GMT)


In this story:

'Twisted sense of pride'

Three officers acquitted earlier

Volpe interrupts trial to plead guilty

The wrong man?

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



NEW YORK (CNN) -- Justin Volpe, the New York City police officer who admitted sodomizing a prisoner with a broken broomstick, was sentenced Monday to 30 years in prison. Volpe, 27, also was ordered to pay a $525 fine and $277,495 in restitution to Haitian immigrant Abner Louima.

Before U.S. District Court Judge Eugene Nickerson passed sentence:

  • Volpe, who has apologized previously for his actions, asked for mercy. "I hurt many people. I was and still am ashamed. ... I am extremely sorry," he said in a statement to Nickerson.

  • The prosecution requested he be given the maximum of life in prison without parole. Prosecutor Alan Vinegard said Volpe had engaged in a pattern of self-serving lies to cover up the attack, including contending that Louima's injuries were caused by gay sex.

    Vinegard called Volpe's initial assertions of innocence a "cowardly, shameful and humiliating fraud he tried to perpetrate on the court, fellow officers of the city police department and the city of New York."

  • Louima declined to ask for any specific punishment for the attack on him two years ago. "I'm sure the court will make a wise and fair decision," he told Nickerson.

  Court TV
Full coverage of the Louima trial
 

'Twisted sense of pride'

Vinegard said that, although Volpe now claims he was ashamed, at the time of the assault the officer bragged to other officers about "how he broke a man down."

"He actually went and retrieved the stick with Mr. Louima's feces still on it and walked around the precinct, brandishing this feces-filled stick in front of his fellow police officers," Vinegard said.

He said these were not the actions of a contrite man but rather showed Volpe's "twisted sense of pride ... about his animalistic brutalization of another human being."

Louima
Louima  

The 1997 attack on the black Haitian immigrant by white police officers strained relations between police and minorities, who said it reflected widespread abuse.

A multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed on Louima's behalf also alleged that rogue cops were shielded by a "blue wall of silence" -- a code among officers to never turn one another in.

Three officers acquitted earlier

The son of a retired detective, Volpe was working in Brooklyn's 70th Precinct at 4 a.m. August 9, 1997, when officers were sent to disband a rowdy crowd outside a nightclub. During a skirmish, Volpe was sucker-punched in the head.

Prosecutors say Louima's cousin struck Volpe. But in the confusion, an enraged Volpe thought his assailant was Louima, a 30-year-old security guard who had cursed at the officers, authorities said.

Once Louima was arrested, Volpe and three other officers -- Charles Schwarz, Thomas Wiese and Thomas Bruder -- took turns beating him in a police car, prosecutors said, while a fifth officer, Sgt. Michael Bellomo, tried to cover up the incident.

Wiese, Bruder and Bellomo were acquitted at trial earlier this year.

At issue in Volpe's sentencing was what happened after the police car arrived at the 70th Precinct station house. Louima said the driver -- identified in records as Schwarz -- dragged him by the handcuffs into the precinct bathroom, followed by Volpe.

Louima said Schwarz held him down while Volpe rammed the stick up his rectum, causing severe internal injuries.

Volpe interrupts trial to plead guilty

Early in the trial, Volpe's attorney implied Louima's injuries were caused by gay sex, but Volpe later reversed himself and pleaded guilty after other police officers gave damaging testimony against him.

They described how Volpe later waved the stick around and boasted how he had "broke a man down."

Overwhelmed, Volpe interrupted the trial to plead guilty to violating Louima's civil rights by sexually assaulting him. "In the presence of another officer, I sodomized Abner Louima with a stick," Volpe told the judge. "I threatened to kill him if he told anybody."

The jury convicted Schwarz of violating Louima's civil rights; he remains in custody awaiting a possible life sentence.

The wrong man?

Attorneys for Schwarz and Volpe have since said Wiese, not Schwarz, was in the bathroom during the attack.

Wiese's attorney strongly denied the allegation and prosecutors insist they accused the right men.

Correspondents Maria Hinojosa, Gary Tuchman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
Cop found guilty in Haitian attack says wrong man convicted as his accomplice
August 16, 1999
2 officers plead not guilty to lying in Louima case
June 28, 1999
2 more New York officers indicted in Louima case
June 21, 1999
Louima verdict sparks disappointment, relief, outrage
June 8, 1999
Jury in police torture case begins third of deliberations
June 8, 1999
Defense wraps up closing arguments in Louima case
June 3, 1999
Prosecution concludes arguments in Louima case
June 2, 1999
Mistrial denied in police brutality trial
May 27, 1999

RELATED SITES:
Official New York City Web site
  • Office of the Mayor of New York City
  • New York City Police Department
The Police Complaint Center
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
National Urban League
New York Civil Liberties Union
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

 LATEST HEADLINES:
SEARCH CNN.com
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.