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#1388: Violent Deed Struck Many Other victim ... (fwd)
Violent Deed Struck Many Other victim of Volpe frenzy feels he got lost
Original Publication Date: 12/14/1999 NY DAILY NEWS._
The clean-cut man arrived in his Sunday-best suit, but still, he was
invisible. Lost in the big throng waiting outside the courtroom, he
was ignored even by the 30 reporters grunting and sniffing for scraps
of news. And when the guards opened the court doors, Patrick Antoine
whispered to his lawyers and slipped away for a minute. "We have to
wait to walk him inside," said one of the lawyers, James Meyerson. "The
marshals might not let him in." "It's pretty serious when not even Al
Sharpton knows who you are," said the other lawyer, Alan Abramson.
Patrick Antoine is not Abner Louima, who stands alone in the universe of
Even so, Antoine came to Brooklyn yesterday, for justice was owed not
only to Justin Volpe and Abner Louima, but also to Patrick Antoine.
On a Saturday morning in August 1997, he walked home along Glenwood Ave.
from a friend's house in Flatbush. He heard someone hollering from
behind him: "You f-----g guy. You f-----g guy."
In the next instant, Officer Justin Volpe smacked Antoine with a fist,
belted him with a flashlight and brought him to the ground with a
couple of other cops. Bleeding, stunned, Antoine was cuffed and put in
the back of a police car. He asked: "What happened? What happened?" An
officer in the front threw a punch at his chest and told him to shut up.
What had happened was this:
Justin Volpe had been chasing a man named Nicholas, who had punched him
outside a nightclub. Volpe never caught Nicholas. Instead, he grabbed
the first available Haitian, who happened to be Patrick Antoine, a man
who had not been anywhere near the nightclub. A moment later, Volpe
caught up with Abner Louima. Everyone ended up back at the 70th Precinct
stationhouse, and a few days later, the infamous story of the
stationhouse bathroom ran in the columns of the late Mike McAlary. The
very first witness was Patrick Antoine, who saw Volpe yank Louima from
a chair by the ears. Now, more than two years later, Volpe was being
sentenced for raping Louima with a stick, and for beating Antoine.
In normal times, no one would care what happened to Antoine. He is a
delegate from a world of the ignored. Had Justin Volpe confined his
revels that night with Abner Louima to the same simple
beating-by-flashlight and false arrest that he delivered to Patrick
Antoine, all three would still be anonymous. Before being sacked on a
public sidewalk, Patrick Antoine had no business with police precincts
or courthouses. "I am a very private, hardworking man," he said.
His day normally begins at 3 a.m., when he rises for work. He takes two
buses to reach one of the city airports, where he starts preparing food
at 5. "Did you get the day off with pay?" he was asked. "No, I don't get
paid today," Antoine said. "When I work, I get paid." In court, he
squeezed into an aisle seat. He had written a short statement. Earlier,
his lawyers, Meyerson and Abramson, had written to the judge, asking him
to remember that Antoine, too, was a victim of a crime. Volpe's sentence
should include some time specifically for his attack on Antoine.
"About Officer Volpe," Antoine himself had written. "I do not hate
him. I just hate what he did to me." The morning turned into a long
psychotherapy session. Volpe wanted to prove that he really was a good
guy. It didn't work. He had said to the prison investigators that Louima
had provoked him in the precinct bathroom: Louima, naked, bleeding,
handcuffed and beaten, turned around and cursed him out. The broken
broomstick that Volpe had hidden in the bathroom somehow "popped" into
Louima's rectum and tore through his bladder. This blatantly
self-serving smear of lies almost certainly cost Volpe a point or two
in the sentencing guidelines, which translates to five years. Then the
judge, Eugene Nickerson, called Antoine to give a statement. "I know
that my case does not get the public attention that the torture of Mr.
Louima received," said Antoine. "But what happened to me on the streets
of Brooklyn should not happen toanyone. I am a hardworking person, and I
have never committed a crime.
"Two years ago, I was beaten by Justin Volpe and falsely arrested
to cover up his deeds. I only seek justice." "All right," Judge
Nickerson said, nodding. Then Louima spoke. Then Volpe's lawyer, Marvyn
Kornberg, suggesting 20 years was a fair sentence. Then Volpe.
Thirty years, said the judge, a smart, careful man. For all his
attention, though, the details of the Patrick Antoine incident slipped
away from Judge Nickerson as he sentenced Volpe. He never got around
to mentioning the crime committed against Antoine. It was as if Justin
Volpe had altered the calculus of brutality, as if only the most
grotesque assaults merit a federal sentence. The beating with a
flashlight of an innocent man on a New York sidewalk and the false
arrest no longer count. "I feel like the judge didn't remember I was
there," Antoine said. He returns to work this morning.