New York 1 News

March 2, 2002

Two Officers In Louima Case May Seek Reinstatement In NYPD

Two of the former police officers whose obstruction of justice convictions in the Abner Louima torture case were thrown out earlier this week may be looking for reinstatement in the NYPD.

The attorney for former officer Thomas Wiese says his client is filing for reinstatement in the Police Department in order to be eligible for $80,000 of backpay. However, Wiese has not said whether he would consider rejoining the police force for active duty.

Meanwhile, a published report Saturday says former officer Thomas Bruder, also convicted in the Louima case, will apply for reinstatement, and that he also intends to reclaim his old job.

Both officers were fired from the NYPD following their convictions, and police officials said Friday each man will face departmental hearings if they reapply for their positions.

On Thursday, a federal appeals court threw out the convictions of Wiese, Bruder and fellow officer Charles Schwarz in connection with the August 1997 beating and torture of Abner Louima in the bathroom of the 70th Precinct stationhouse in Brooklyn.

Bruder and Wiese were sentenced to five years for conspiracy to obstruct justice, but were released pending an appeal.

Earlier this week, the federal appeals court said the convictions of Wiese and Bruder were overturned because of insufficient evidence that the officers obstructed justice.

The court also said Charles Schwarz's civil rights conviction must be thrown out and a new trial ordered because Schwarz was denied effective counsel and the jury was exposed to prejudicial information during deliberations.

A bail hearing for Schwarz has been set for Thursday in Brooklyn. The U.S. Attorney's office says it is planning to retry the case.

Schwarz denied being in the bathroom when another officer, Justin Volpe, carried out the attack. However, after Volpe pleaded guilty, a jury convicted Schwarz in 1999 of violating Louima's civil rights by restraining him while he was sodomized with a broken broomstick.

Schwarz began serving a 15-year sentence, while Volpe pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 years.

Meanwhile, minority leaders say they'll fight any move by Wiese or Bruder to be reinstated. The Reverend Al Sharpton joined with the group 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement and the Latino Officers Association Saturday to condemn the officers rejoining police ranks.

“Based on this report, where they clearly said these men lied, these men should never, ever wear a police uniform in the City of New York again,” Sharpton said Saturday.

“When you hear people from City Hall and One Police Plaza start talking about, ‘Oh, let’s not let it happen again,’ well darn it, it happened already,” said Eric Adams of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement.

Civil libertarian Norman Siegel added, “What we want is the truth. What we want is accountability. We want the person or persons who violated Abner Louima’s civil rights to be held accountable. It’s as elemental as that.”

Sharpton is planning a busy week to fight for Louima. He wants to meet with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and he's going to Washington D.C. to talk to New York Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer about the new prosecutor for the case.

Finally, the NAACP said Saturday it will push for a federal appeal in the case, something the organization calls “one of the worst cases of police brutality in American history.”

Kweisi Mfume, the president of the civil rights group, says Thursday's court ruling is a “miscarriage of justice.” Mfume also says the ruling sends a "dangerous message" to people who are willing to lie to conceal police misconduct.