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3#4264: Cop admits he lied to FBI in Louima investigation (fwd)
Cop admits he lied to FBI in Louima investigation
Wednesday, June 14, 2000
NEW YORK -- A police officer on trial in U.S. District Court in
Brooklyn admitted Tuesday that he lied to protect himself and other
officers instead of helping authorities prosecute the patrolmen who
tortured Abner Louima in a precinct bathroom. "You lied because you
didn't want to give information that would get another cop in trouble .
. . because you didn't want to end up a witness in the Louima case,
right?" prosecutor Alan Vinegrad asked defendant Francisco Rosario on
cross-examination. "Yes," the officer replied. Rosario, 35, took the
stand in his defense against charges that he misled investigators by not
telling them he saw Officer Justin Volpe throw a battered, half-naked
Louima into a holding cell after the infamous 1997 attack in Brooklyn's
70th Precinct stationhouse. Rosario was booking another prisoner at the
time. Volpe pleaded guilty to sodomizing the handcuffed prisoner with a
broken broomstick in a fit of rage. Another officer, Charles
Schwarz, was convicted at an earlier trial of holding Louima down
during the assault. Rosario faces charges that he and his partner
conspired to make false statements -- part of what prosecutors say was a
"blue wall of silence" that hindered the investigation. If convicted, he
faces up to five years in prison. On Tuesday, the defendant told the
jury that a union representative pressured him to keep quiet when
investigators began questioning potential police witnesses.The defendant
also said he was motivated by fear. "I felt like my world was tumbling,"
he said. "I was afraid." The defense has argued that Rosario's decision
to tell FBI agents at first that he was not near the holding cell was a
mistake, not a federal offense. He testified that he tried to set the
record straight in a follow-up interview, admitting he had seen an
officer toss Louima into a cell, then curse at the Haitian immigrant.
I thought once I came clean, that I would be OK," Rosario said.
But Rosario said the officer was not Volpe, which prosecutors
allege was another lie. On cross-examination, Vinegrad sought to portray
Rosario as a corrupt cop who put his own interests ahead of the
helpless victim of a vicious assault. "You just thought about yourself,
right?" Vinegrad asked in one exchange. "Yes." "You didn't give a
thought about Mr. Louima?" "At that point, yes."