New York In what would be the biggest settlement of a single police brutality claim in New York history, the city and the police union have tentatively agreed to pay about $9 million to a Haitian immigrant tortured in a stationhouse bathroom with a broken broomstick, The Associated Press has learned.
Lawyers for the city, police and the victim, Abner Louima, met for two hours Wednesday with a federal magistrate to discuss terms of the settlement. They are to return to court today. Citing a gag order, lawyers refused to discuss the case after emerging from the closed hearing.
Legal sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said the parties had hoped to announce a final settlement by Wednesday night, but needed to work out the details. The city issued a statement Wednesday saying it would pay $7.1 million and the union $1.6 million, but retracted the statement when no final agreement was reached.
Earlier in the day sources had said the settlement would be around $9 million, paid jointly by the city and the Patrolmen's Benevolent Assn.
A settlement would close a notorious case that touched off protests accusing police of singling out minorities for abuse.
Louima was arrested in a brawl outside a Brooklyn nightclub in 1997. He was handcuffed and taken to the 70th Precinct stationhouse.
Officer Justin Volpe mistakenly believing Louima had punched him sought revenge by sodomizing Louima with a broken broomstick.
Volpe pleaded guilty to federal charges and is serving 30 years. A jury found another officer, Charles Schwarz, guilty of pinning Louima down during the assault; four other officers were convicted of lying about what happened. Charges against Louima were later dropped.