NEW YORK (AP) -- Lawyers for police officers accused of beating Abner Louima say their clients were only put on trial because of their association with the "monster" who admitted torturing the Haitian immigrant.
Justin Volpe, one of five officers charged in the 1997 assault, admitted during trial last week that he sodomized Louima with a stick in the bathroom of a Brooklyn precinct.The brutality of the act shocked the city and raised tensions between police and minorities.
In closing arguments Wednesday, lawyers for two of the other officers tried their best to distance their clients from both the attack and Volpe.
"There's no question that Thomas Wiese sits here because of what that monster Justin Volpe did to Abner Louima in that bathroom," said Wiese's attorney, Joseph Tacopina. "And the government's argument is really one that says, 'Justin Volpe's an animal, convict everyone else.' "
Officer Charles Schwarz, 33, is accused of holding Louima down during the stationhouse attack. Schwarz, along with Wiese, 35, and Thomas Bruder, 33, is also accused of beating Louima in a patrol car. The officers' supervisor, Sgt. Michael Bellomo, 37, is charged with covering it all up.
The attorneys for Bruder and Wiese argued Louima never identified the two as being among his four assailants and that his version of when and where he was beaten was inconsistent with that of prosecutors.
The jury was expected to get the case Thursday, after attorneys for Schwarz and Bellomo present their closing arguments.