Channel 7: WABC News

March 7, 2002

 

Schwarz Granted $1 Million Bail In Louima Torture Case

After 33 months in prison, most of it in solitary confinement, Charles Schwarz is free on $1 million bail. He was in Manhattan with his attorney and his family Thursday evening, following one of the most controversial court decisions the city has ever seen, and still, the Louima case is far from over.

Charles Schwarz    

With a smile on his face and with the applause from his supporters, former New York City police officer Charles Schwarz faced a crowd of reporters and cameras, police and a handful of demonstrators, as he spoke publicly for the first time since he was granted a new trial.

Charles Schwarz, Defendant: "It's hard to explain, but, how I feel, it's just so overwhelming right now. It's just a great day.

US District Judge Reena Raggi granted Schwarz' bail at $1 million, with certain conditions, as he still faces a new trial on federal civil rights charges for his role in the brutal attack on Abner Louima back in 1997. According to the judge:

He must remain in the five boroughs.

He is to have no contact with Thomas Bruder or Thomas Wiese - who were also acquitted by a federal appeals court last week, but may be called as witnesses.

He may also face future restrictions on contact with other potential witnesses - the judge could add names to the list of people he will not be able to contact after next Tuesday.

Ron Fischetti, Schwarz's Attorney: "We're not going to have any contact with any witnesses. We don't need any contact with any witnesses. And I really don't want to talk about the case. You heard what the judge said, we're trying to lower the volume here."

Fischetti was referring to a gag order that was nearly imposed by the judge Thursday, because the high-profile Louima case has people on all sides speaking out, including a coalition of groups from the Haitian community.

Vladimir Rodney, Haitian-American Alliance: "Our community is convinced that the people who have been charged are the proper parties to be charged and there is absolutely no question as to their guilt or innocence."

But one Schwarz' closest friends took a differing opinion Thursday.

Stephen Riccio, Schwarz's Friend: "I wouldn't feel this way if I felt the guy could do this, I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't be standing here lying to people, the public, I wouldn't. I feel very adamant that the man didn't do it."

Schwarz thanked his family and his attorney, Ronald Fischetti, for sticking by him.

Schwarz: "He kept my spirits up and he made me keep my hope up that this day would happen and it has. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be standing here right now."

Schwarz' will be back in court for his civil rights trial on June 24th.