Abner Louima, who was tortured in a police station bathroom in 1997 in one of the most notorious brutality cases in city history, will receive $8.7 million in a settlement announced today.
The settlement was finalized in Brooklyn federal court after months of negotiations between attorneys for Louima and those for the city and Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said Louima family lawyer Sanford Rubenstein. The association is the police officers' union.
"It's been a long, arduous effort that's finally produced a settlement," Rubenstein said.
The city was expected to cover $7.1 million of the total — the most it has ever paid to a police brutality victim.
A settlement would close a notorious case that strained relations between blacks and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and touched off protests accusing police of singling out minorities for abuse.
Hung Up Over Demands for Reform
In March, Giuliani confirmed he had authorized a payout after negotiators struck a tentative deal. But talks broke down, reportedly because Louima was upset by news accounts saying he had abandoned demands for reforms in the way the New York Police Department deals with officers accused of abuse.
Even on the verge of the final settlement, the talks were strained. Legal sources told The Associated Press the parties hoped to announce it Wednesday night, but had to return today to complete the details.
Louima, a Haitian immigrant, was arrested in a brawl outside a Brooklyn nightclub in 1997. He was handcuffed and taken to the station house of Brooklyn's 70th Precinct.
Officer Justin Volpe — mistakenly believing Louima had punched him — sought revenge by sodomizing Louima with a broken broomstick. He pleaded guilty 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 to authorities about what happened.
Louima sued for $155 million in 1998, claiming officers conspired to create a "blue wall of silence and lies to obstruct justice."
Under the earlier settlement agreement that was abandoned in March, Louima would have received $9 million from the city and the union but would have dropped his demand for reforms in the way the Police Department deals with officers accused of abuse.
It was not immediately clear how the new settlement would address issues involving department operations.
The 40,000-officer department still faces a separate civil rights investigation by the U.S. attorney in Manhattan into allegations of racial profiling. That probe followed the 1999 slaying of an unarmed West African immigrant, Amadou Diallo, in a hail of 41 bullets fired by four white officers.