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#2660: Louima jurors request another readback as deliberations continue (fwd)


Thursday March 02 04:57 PM EST 

 Louima jurors request another readback as deliberations continue
 By Bryan Robinson, Court TV

 BROOKLYN, N.Y. (Court TV) Jurors in the Abner Louima case Thursday
continued to focuse on events leading to the Haitian immigrant's sodomy
as they requested another readback of testimony. This time they wanted
to review the testimony of an officer who said he did not see Charles
Schwarz go into the bathroom with Louima.  Jurors are deciding whether
former officer Schwarz and officers Thomas Bruder and Thomas Wiese
engaged in an attempted cover-up of Louima's sodomy. Federal prosecutors
believe Bruder, Wiese and Schwarz lied about their knowledge of Louima's
beating in the two years after the Haitian immigrant was sodomized. 
 According to federal prosecutors, Bruder and Wiese lied to
investigators in an attempt to protect Schwarz. Schwarz was accused and
convicted of standing guard at a bathroom door and holding Louima down
while his partner Justin Volpe sodomized him with a broken wooden stick.
Bruder and Wiese were accused of beating Louima on the way to
 the 70th Precinct on Aug. 7, 1997 but were acquitted of the charges at
trial in June. Schwarz, however, was convicted of civil rights
violations and conspiracy.  Jurors so far have requested several
readbacks in over 10 hours of work, the latest focusing on the testimony
of Detective Eric Turetzky. The officer testified that he only saw
Schwarz walk Louima towards the bathroom, not take him into it. His
testimony contradicted what he said at the civil rights trial last year.
 Turetzky's testimony at last year's trial arguably led to Schwarz's
conviction. Last year, he testified that he saw Volpe brandish a broken
broomstick and lead Louima from the bathroom to the prison cell. In a
taped interview with the police Internal Affairs Bureau, he claimed he
saw Schwarz take Louima into the bathroom.  At this year's obstruction
trial, Turetzky also claimed that members of the police union pressured
him to keep silent about the case. Justin Volpe's brother, Damian, a
member of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, asked him to
 "do the right thing" and "stick together." Turetzky interpreted the
advice as a plea to help cover-up Volpe and other officers' role in
Louima's beating and sodomy.  Jurors have also asked for and received
readbacks of the testimony of Sgt. William Hargrove, the first Internal
Affairs Bureau investigator to interview Louima, and Desk Sgt. Jeffrey
Fallon. According to Hargrove, Louima claimed he was put in a cell at
the 70th Precinct for 10 minutes before being taken to the bathroom by
two officers and sodomized. In other accounts, Louima claims he was
taken directly from the front desk to the bathroom.  Fallon described
how Louima was brought into the station house, brought to the front desk
and escorted to the back of the precinct where the cells and bathroom
are located.  Schwarz testified that he was not even in the 70th
Precinct stationhouse when the attack occurred. Schwarz claimed
 he was outside searching his patrol car for any weapons that prisoners
may have hidden in the backseat or underneath the front seats during
transportation.  Though Schwarz admitted that he brought Louima to the
front desk of the 70th Precinct, the former officer claimed he
 left him there after searching him. He denied bringing Louima to the
rear of the stationhouse. When Schwarz's attorney Ron Fischetti asked
who brought Louima to the rear of the stationhouse, Schwarz said he
thought it was Wiese. Justin Volpe, who pleaded guilty during the civil
rights trial last year and is currently serving a 30-year sentence, told
 jurors that Schwarz was wrongfully convicted and that Wiese was in the
bathroom and saw him sodomize Louima. According to Volpe, Wiese stood by
and watched the attack and did nothing to stop it.  Wiese has claimed
that he walked into the 70th Precinct bathroom after the attack and did
not realize what had happened. Tacopina pointed out in his summations
that Wiese put himself in a compromising position by telling this to
 investigators. Louima himself has never been able to decisively
identify Schwarz as one of his attackers in the bathroom. Louima
 only said during the criminal civil rights trial that the attacker
resembled the driver of the car that took him to the 70th Precinct.
Records show that the driver of that car was Schwarz. 
 During the obstruction trial Louima suggested  for the first time 
that a third officer was involved in the bathroom attack. He said that
someone opened and closed the bathroom door as someone held him and
Volpe attacked. However, Louima could not see the person's face and
again failed to positively identify Schwarz as Volpe's accomplice. 
 Lawyers for the officers asked Louima why he failed to mention the
third person in the bathroom in previous statements and in testimony
before three grand juries and at trial last year. He was asked why he
told a state grand jury that he didn't know what the second officer in
the bathroom was doing while he was assaulted. Louima also told grand
jurors that no one held him down during the attack.