Abner Louima (b. ?1964 in Thomassin,
Haïti) is a Haïtian immigrant who was brutalized by
New York City police officers when he was arrested after a brawl
outside a Brooklyn nightclub in 1997.
The arresting officers beat Louima
in the squad car and later sexually abused him in a bathroom at
the Brooklyn 70th Precinct station house at approximately 4:30
a.m., August 9. Officer Justin Volpe first kicked Louima in the
groin, then, while Louima's hands were cuffed behind his back,
sodomized him with a plunger handle, causing severe internal damage
to his intestines and bladder that required several operations
Louima's teeth were also badly
damaged in the attack, and he claimed that the police officers
involved in the attack called him a "nigger."
Volpe next moved through the
precinct, holding the bloody, feces-stained instrument in his
hand and bragged that he had "broke a man down." Given
the size of the precinct in question, it would be unlikely for
the officers on duty not to have heard the assault or witnessed
Volpe's pride in his actions.
Volpe initially pled not guilty
to a charge of assault, and his case went to trial. After many
witnesses testified against him, Volpe suddenly changed his plea
to one of guilt and confessed to sodomizing Louima. Despite the
fact that Loiuma had several broken teeth, Volpe denied that he
ever struck Louima in the mouth with the stick and claimed that
he only put it very close to Louima's mouth. Volpe also admitted
that he had threatened Louima's life. Volpe was sentenced to 30
years in prison. Another officer was convicted for pinning Louima
down during the assault, and four others were convicted of lying
Besides Volpe, the other four
officers were Thomas Bruder, Charles Schwarz, Michael Bellomo
and Thomas Wiese.
The incident provoked outrage among the Haitian and other minority
communities in New York City as well as nationally.
Louima's subsequent civil suit against the city resulted in a
settlement of $8.75 million, the largest police brutality settlement
in New York City history.
Fox News pundit Sean Hannity
was one of Louima's biggest critics during the trial, charging
that he had fabricated the rape — calling him "lying
Louima" — and using interviews with people alleging
Louima had past sexual relationships with men to bolster the claim
that he had sustained his injuries during a "gay sex act."
Louima now lives in Florida.