NAN Celebrates Living Black History, Honoring Abner Louima
Every day during Black History Month, we will honor chapter leaders, advocates, and partners who are shaping Black History now.
(February 11th, 2021) — Today, we honor Abner Louima.
On August 9, 1997, Abner Louima was leaving the Club Rendez Vous nightclub in East Flatbush. Police officers were breaking up a crowd in the street when somebody punched Officer Volpe in the face. Volpe mistook the assailant for Louima, a 30-year-old security guard. Officers on the scene arrested Louima and took him by squad car to the 70th precinct. Later, he said an officer brought him to the bathroom and held him down while Volpe sodomized him with a stick. He was left bleeding on the floor of a cell, and spent two months in a hospital handcuffed to his bed, with a punctured bladder and a severed colon, and had surgery for his internal injuries.
The assault on Louima in 1997 was a major event in the city’s history. That year, then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was running for re-election on his campaign of “law and order”. But Blacks and Latinos were chafing at the rising number of stops and frisks in certain neighborhoods. Two protests were held the same month of the Louima attack thousands attend, which became known as the “police torture case.
Reverend Al Sharpton was with Abner Loumia fighting for a conviction, organizing rallies, marches and press conferences. The Louima case was one of the few times a victim of police brutality lived to tell his tale and got a jury to convict police officers.
The NYPD brass shook up management at the 70th precinct. The case was turned over to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District in Brooklyn, and the FBI worked with Internal Affairs to interview everyone present in the precinct house on Aug. 9, 1997. As a few police officers came forward, the so-called blue wall of silence began to crumble.
During the 1999 federal trial, Volpe was pled guilty after an officer surfaced with new, more damning testimony about what Volpe told him about the attack.
Volpe was sentenced to 30 years in prison without parole.
Another officer, Charles Schwartz, was convicted of holding Louima down during the attack, though he insisted he was innocent.
Louima’s supporters saw the case as a vindication. Overall, the Officer who sodomized Louima is still in prison, Louima recieved a settlement and the city got the union to end the so-called 48-hour rule, which gave officers two days to get their stories straight before talking to investigators.
JUST TWO DAYS AGO A Brooklyn federal judge rejected an application for compassionate release from the former NYPD cop who sexually brutalized Abner Louima with a broomstick in 1997.
Judge Frederic Block denied Justin Volpe’s application, in which the ex-cop claimed he was a changed man who had caught COVID-19 behind bars.
Louima now lives in Florida with his wife and children. He has opted to stay out of the public eye.