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#2503: Riled-Up Louima Cop,Prosecutor Spar (fwd)
Riled-Up Louima Cop,Prosecutor Spar
By HELEN PETERSON Daily News Staff Writer
Original Publication Date: 02/24/2000
Federal prosecutor lit into Charles Schwarz yesterday as the former
cop, during a tense cross-examination, angrily denied having anything to
do with the sodomy torture of Abner Louima.Schwarz, 34, was grilled for
2 1/2 hours in a packed Brooklyn federal courtroom. The questions
focused on whether he tried to cover up his role in the shocking attack.
"I was never in that bathroom," Schwarz emphatically told Assistant U.S.
Attorney Alan Vinegrad, repeating what he said on his first day on the
stand.Some of the questions drew groans from spectators in the
courtroom, particularly when Schwarz was asked whether he once lied to
protect another officer.When Vinegrad suggested that Schwarz was angry
at Louima because he had punched the cop in the head during a street
brawl, Schwarz said he didn't know what Vinegrad meant by angry.
"I don't think anybody likes to get punched in the head," he said, then
conceded: "Mr. Vinegrad, yes, I was angry."Under further questioning by
his lawyer, Ronald Fischetti, Schwarz said he wasn't angry enough to
assault Louima.Earlier in the day, Schwarz triggered an angry response
from Vinegrad with an off-the-cuff remark about whether punching a cop
is a serious crime."Well, the Brooklyn district attorney's office never
seems to think so," Schwarz quipped.He and two other cops, Thomas Bruder
and Thomas Wiese, are charged with conspiring to obstruct justice by
coming up with a cover story to protect Schwarz from being charged in
the bathroom attack.Schwarz was convicted last year of holding down
Louima as ex-cop Justin Volpe sodomized him with a broken broomstick.
Asked about dozens of phone conversations he had with other cops in the
days after the Aug. 9, 1997, attack, Schwarz insisted he never discussed
details of the assault.Schwarz also denied asking anyone to concoct a
false story on his behalf, including Wiese, his former partner.And in a
dramatic demonstration, Schwarz stepped out of the jury box and strapped
on his empty gun holster to show how he escorted handcuffed prisoners.
Because he is left-handed, he said, he escorted them with his right hand
to be sure they were as far as possible from his weapon, which was
holstered on his left side.The move was an apparent effort to discredit
the testimony of another cop, Eric Turetzky, who said Schwarz escorted
Louima to the bathroom using his left hand.The defense rested when
Schwarz finished testifying. Closing arguments in the case are expected
to begin Monday.