Sources Say Louima OKs $9M Settlement

A $9 million settlement has been reached in a

civil rights lawsuit filed by a Haitian immigrant tortured in a

police station bathroom, The Associated Press has learned.

Lawyers for the city, police and Abner Louima, citing a gag

order, refused to discuss the tentative settlement. But they

confirmed that the parties were scheduled to meet with a federal

magistrate in Brooklyn this afternoon to possibly finalize the

deal.

Sources who spoke on condition of anonymity say the deal would

be around $9 million, with part paid by the city and part by the

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. A settlement of that size would

be the largest ever for a single police brutality claim in city

history.

Louima sued for $155 million in 1998, claiming officers at

Brooklyn's 70th Precinct conspired to create a "blue wall of

silence and lies to obstruct justice." The civil rights suit

charged police and PBA officials with condoning an "environment in

which the most violent police officers believed they would be

insulated" from prosecution.

In three criminal trials, he testified about an ordeal stemming

from his arrest in a street brawl outside a Brooklyn nightclub on

Aug. 9, 1997. Charges against Louima were later dropped.

Louima was handcuffed and taken to the precinct. Once there,

Officer Justin Volpe — mistakenly believing Louima had punched him

— sought revenge by sodomizing Louima with a broken broomstick and

threatening to kill him if he reported it.

Volpe 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.

An earlier settlement agreement was abandoned soon after it was

reached in March. Under that deal, Louima would have received a $9

million payment from the city and the Police Benevolent

Association, but would have dropped his demand for reforms in the

way the New York Police Department deals with officers accused of

abuse.

Community activists immediately expressed unhappiness that the

deal would not address changes in NYPD operations. Soon after the

deal was announced, Louima and his attorneys reconsidered.

It was not immediately clear how the new settlement would

address issues involving NYPD operations.

The settlement, if approved, would close the books on a case

that sparked outrage across the city. Last month, the federal

government shelved a broad civil rights case against the police

department.

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