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Friday, May 29, 2009

Man Sexually Assaulted By Police After Smoking Pot

Michael Mineo

Michael Mineo said he was sodomized by NYPD officers.
(Photo by Patrick E. McCarthy / December 8, 2008)

A man who's accused city police officers of beating and sexually assaulting him sued the New York Police Department and the city for $220 million yesterday in federal court.

Michael Mineo, a 24-year-old tattoo worker, said he is not worried that the timing of the suit - some four months before the anticipated start of the trial for the three officers charged in the incident - makes it seem like he cares most about making money.

"Not at all," he said outside Brooklyn federal court after his lawyers filed the suit. "It's going to speak for itself because I'm not lying. There's no way I could have lied and made this up. I don't want the accused officers on the police force anymore."

One of his lawyers, Kevin Mosley, said "to not file a suit would almost look like he was trying to hide something. He has nothing to hide."

Mineo made headlines last October when he accused three officers of beating and sexually assaulting him with a nightstick in the Prospect Park subway station while trying to subdue him after he was stopped for smoking marijuana.

The case drew immediate comparisons to the 1997 attack on Haitian immigrant Abner Louima inside the 70th Precinct. Louima was violated with a broomstick by Officer Justin Volpe, who plead guilty and is in prison.

In December, Officer Richard Kern was indicted on a charge of sexually abusing Mineo, while officers Alex Cruz and Andrew Morales were indicted on charges of hindering prosecution and official misconduct.

"It's not surprising," said Richard Murray, Morales' lawyer. "He hopes they'll prevail and he'll get a lot of money. But I'm confident that after trial, Officer Morales will be found not guilty of any criminal misconduct, and my belief is that there was no misconduct on behalf of any of the officers."

Cruz's lawyer, Stu London, said, "I've thought, from the beginning, that his financial interest was always his primary interest as opposed to the accuracy of the events as he related them."

Attorneys for Kern and the NYPD had no comment, and lawyers for the city say they have not had a chance to review the suit.

Morales and Cruz saw blood from the attack and did nothing, prosecutor Charles Guria said at the time of the indictment, while Kern warned Mineo he faced felony charges if he went to the hospital or to a precinct.

Mineo was given a summons for disorderly conduct, and police left the scene. The summons was defective, an apparent attempt to make sure what had happened would never be learned, according to law enforcement sources.

But Mineo did go to the hospital, and he says the incident has emotionally scarred him and left him unable to return to work. His injuries - a rectum laceration - cause him great pain, he says, and he's aware of the case's place in history.

"My kids are going to know about this when I have a kid," Mineo said. "It's humiliating. This is considered a rape."

Daniel Edward Rosen contributed to this story.