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#470: N.J. cops brutalize Haitian (fwd)

From: P D Bellegarde-Smith <pbs@csd.uwm.edu>
From: Shreeram <shreeram@ix.netcom.com>

From: Counterpunch <counterpunch@counterpunch.org To: brc-news@igc.org



June 15, 1999

Beaten and Paralysed by Cops, Cut Off Medicaid, Ignored by Press

Meet Max Antoine: New Jersey's Louima

Is there a rationing policy by the press that we are allowed only one
atrocity against a Haitian per decade? While the recent guilty plea of
Justin Volpe in the Abner Louima torture trial generated some headlines,
an equally brutal incident in Irvington, NJ, has passed by virtually
without attention. This case involves a gang of cops who forced their
way without probable cause into an apartment where a party was going on,
hurled racist language, beat up several guests and nearly killed one of
them, after he asked for their badge numbers. It also involves complicit
emergency medical teams who refused treatment to the battered victims, a
prosecutor's office that chose to go after the victims rather than the
cops and an utterly indifferent press. In other words, a typical day on
the streets in black America.

On June 2, 1996, Marie D. Antoine, a Haitian immigrant, was hosting a
family birthday party at her apartment in Irvington. Apparently, one of
the neighbors called Irvington police to complain about the noise. At 2
a.m., three Irvington police officers, Phillip Rucker, Alfredo Aleman
and Keith Stouch arrived at the apartment and asked that the music
volume be lowered. The stereo was turned off.

But 15 minutes later the police returned and forced their way inside.
The officers entered without a warrant and without the consent of Marie

When they came through the door, one of the officers allegedly yelled,
"Get the fuck out, the party's over!"

The officers searched the apartment, apparently for drugs, with
flashlights. Frustrated that the guests did not immediately begin to
leave, the police began pushing and shoving people out the door. At this
point, Marie Antoine's brother Max, a paralegal who ran an accounting
service, told the guests (most of whom were Haitians) that they had the
right to be there and that in America the police weren't permitted to
"act like the Ton Ton Macoutes." He asked his sister, Marie, to write
down the officers' badge numbers so that he could file an official

Officer Rucker apparently overheard Max Antoine's comments. According to
numerous witnesses at the apartment, Rucker pushed his way through the
crowd, knocking to the ground Marie (who was six months pregnant at the
time), and grabbed Antoine by the neck. Rucker allegedly rammed
Antoine's head into the wall. Then, guests say, Antoine was hit in the
head by a nightstick swung "in a baseball-like fashion" by Officer

Antoine dropped to the floor in agony. Now all three cops were on top of
him, and witnesses say that Officer Stouch stomped on him while the
other officers flailed away at his head and body with their nightsticks.
Several of the guests tried to intervene, but they were shoved aside.

Meanwhile, the three cops dragged Max out of the apartment and into the
hall, where he was kicked and beaten again. Marie Antoine tried to stop
the abuse, asking, "What are you doing to my brother?"

According to Marie, Officer Rucker turned to her and said, "I will teach
him about American law." Max was then handcuffed and dragged down a
flight of stairs, screaming in pain, as his five year-old daughter,
Nelchael, watched in horror.

At the bottom of the stairs, witnesses report, the police picked Antoine
off the floor and shoved him through the doorway, pushing his head
through the glass pane on the storm door. Max was then placed in the
back of the police cruiser and sprayed in the face with a burning
chemical, most likely pepper spray.

By this time, 10 more police officers arrived on the scene. As in the
Rodney King beating, none of them attempted to stop the attacks on
Antoine. Instead, they cordoned off the area and sent all the guests
inside the apartment.

Max Antoine's ordeal was far from over. When he reached the police
station, he repeatedly asked for medical treatment. Instead, he was led
across the lockup area and, still handcuffed, thrown into a cell and
beaten and kicked again. Antoine says that when he asked to use the
phone to call for an attorney, one of the officers snapped, "Shut up and
die like a man."

Despite the fact that he was bleeding profusely, police didn't call the
emergency medical team until after Max Antoine had been booked. When the
medics arrived, they refused to give him any medical attention.

Antoine, whose injuries were numerous, excruciatingly painful and
life-threatening, spent two nights in jail before he was released to his

Antoine was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital, where he was placed in
intensive care. His injuries were serious and debilitating. He sustained
a fractured left eye socket, a broken jaw, bowel and bladder damage and
spinal injuries. Over the next few months, he underwent 17 surgeries,
including lumbar and spinal implants.

The beating left Max Antoine permanently disabled.

He is now paralyzed below the waist and blind in his left eye. He has
suffered brain damage and has lost sexual function. According to his
wife, Max is often depressed and suicidal. His medical bills are piling
up and he has no way to pay them off.

Antoine and several of the guests at his sister's party lodged
complaints with the Irvington Police Dept. and the prosecutor's office.
Ultimately, a grand jury was convened. But the prosecutors never called
any witnesses and no charges or other disciplinary action was taken
against the police officers.

The Antoines also sought the help of the Clinton administration.
However, the Justice Dept. has so far refused to investigate the case.

Antoine, however, has been charged with resisting arrest and assaulting
a police officer. He is slated to go to trial on July 26.

Antoine and his family have filed a civil suit against the Irvington
police and the emergency medical service, saying his civil rights were
violated and that he received inadequate medical care. Certainly, he has
suffered awful ordeals because of the police beating.

For example, he had a neurotransmitter inserted in his spine to
stimulate his paralyzed muscles. This device must be replaced every two
years. He also needs continuing rehabilitation therapy. These
requirements and the initial operations have yielded a medical bill thus
far of $650,000. Medicaid has enabled Antoine to take care of this bill,
but now he faces the consequences of Bill Clinton's deal with the
Republicans on Medicaid "reform," which set a ceiling-which has now
kicked in-of $1500 per year. So he faces the likelihood that he won't be
able to replace the neurotransmitter, or even go to therapy. Such a
journey requires the hiring of a van able to take a person in a
wheelchair. Rental rates for these vehicles are high. Antoine's wife,
says that he uses up the $1500 in a month.

For their part, the Irvington police claim that it's all Antoine's fault
and that he incurred his injuries while being taken from the apartment
complex. If we are to believe the cops, Antoine-handcuffed at the
time-suddenly broke free and threw himself through a glass storm door
and then refused medical treatment for two days.

What happened to Antoine is even worse than the assault on Abner Louima,
yet the indifference of the Justice Dept. and of the New Jersey police
to this outrage has been total. CP

 CounterPunch 3220 N Street, NW, Suite 346 Washington, DC 20007
1-800-840-3683 email: counterpunch@counterpunch.org

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