Channel 7: WABC News

February 28, 2002

Reaction To Court's Decision In Louima Case Comes Fast And Furious

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Law Professor's Opinion

The Abner Louima torture case was one of the worst police scandals in New York City's history. Reaction to Thursday's rulings was swift, and in some cases furious. Dave Evans reports from One Police Plaza with the latest.

Thursday's decision has huge implications for police and politicians alike. The first example of that came on Thursday afternoon, as community leaders demanded to know whether future prosecutors in the Charles Schwarz case will be as aggressive as their predecessors.

When the ruling for the three officers came in just after 11:00 Thursday morning, it caught everyone off guard. So much so that at City Hall's blue room, the mayor said it was better to say nothing.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City (R): "It's just too early to tell. You're the only one that has the information so we can't really respond."

But Bloomberg issued a statement Thursday afternoon, calling the case "a barbaric abuse of human rights." The statement goes on to say the decision "is a reminder that we need to do everything we can to prevent such incidents" in the future.

Reverend Al Sharpton, National Action Network: "This is outrageous. This is something out of a fiction novel."

By Noon Reverend Al Sharpton had held a news conference in Harlem, and promised protests and civil disobedience.

Sharpton: "The ruling that has been announced today is a shocking display of how the judicial system continues to fail to protect citizens against police abuse."

John Ashcroft, US Attorney General: "These are matters of great concern to us..."

Attorney General Ashcroft seemed perturbed by the news. He promised a review of the controversial case, but not everyone is condemning the decision. Brooklyn City Councilman Marty Golden, a former policeman who worked in the early 80's at the 70 precinct, said that if a court threw out the convictions, it probably did so for good reason.

Marty Golden, City Council (R): "But the bottom line is, I think, we all believe that justice should be done, and if there's any question in the world that justice wasn't done then this is the right thing."

With Abner Louima now living in Florida, his family was asked whether Louima will be able to handle yet another trial.

Reverend Philius Nicolas, Louima's Uncle: "To go through all of this again, I don't know how he's going to withstand this."

Carl McCall, State Comptroller (D): "You know, I just think about the terrible suffering that Abner Louima and his family have gone through. And I had thought that matter was closed, and now that it's been reopened I think that's just a terrible tragedy that they will have to go through that again."

Rudy Giuliani was New York City's mayor throughout the Louima case. Giuliani did not have much to say about the decision Thursday. He released a written statement saying, "This is an issue before the court, where it is best resolved."