N E W Y O R K, July 12, 2001 -- Abner Louima, who was tortured in a policestation bathroom in 1997 in one of the most notorious brutalitycases in city history, will receive $8.7 million in a settlementannounced today.
The settlement was finalized in Brooklyn federal court aftermonths of negotiations between attorneys for Louima and those forthe city and Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said Louima familylawyer Sanford Rubenstein. The association is the police officers'union.
"It's been a long, arduous effort that's finally produced asettlement," Rubenstein said.
The city was expected to cover $7.1 million of the total — themost it has ever paid to a police brutality victim.
A settlement would close a notorious case that strainedrelations between blacks and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and touchedoff protests accusing police of singling out minorities for abuse.
Hung Up Over Demands for Reform
In March, Giuliani confirmed he had authorized a payout afternegotiators struck a tentative deal. But talks broke down,reportedly because Louima was upset by news accounts saying he hadabandoned demands for reforms in the way the New York PoliceDepartment deals with officers accused of abuse.
Even on the verge of the final settlement, the talks werestrained. Legal sources told The Associated Press the parties hopedto announce it Wednesday night, but had to return today tocomplete the details.
Louima, a Haitian immigrant, was arrested in a brawl outside aBrooklyn nightclub in 1997. He was handcuffed and taken to thestation house of Brooklyn's 70th Precinct.
Officer Justin Volpe — mistakenly believing Louima had punchedhim — 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 pinningLouima down during the assault; four other officers were convictedof lying to authorities about what happened.
Louima sued for $155 million in 1998, claiming officersconspired to create a "blue wall of silence and lies to obstructjustice."
Under the earlier settlement agreement that was abandoned in March, Louima would have received $9 million from the city andthe union but would have dropped his demand for reforms in the waythe Police Department deals with officers accused of abuse.
It was not immediately clear how the new settlement wouldaddress issues involving department operations.
The 40,000-officer department still faces a separate civilrights investigation by the U.S. attorney in Manhattan intoallegations of racial profiling. That probe followed the 1999slaying of an unarmed West African immigrant, Amadou Diallo, in ahail of 41 bullets fired by four white officers.