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Attack on cop cars inside job

March 10, 1998

An incident in which more than 100 tires were slashed over the weekend outside the Brooklyn precinct stationhouse where Abner Louima was allegedly sexually assaulted may have been "an inside job by cops in the precinct," a top police official told Newsday yesterday.

More than 100 tires - including some on police department vehicles and officers' personal cars - were punctured by vandals early Saturday morning.

In all, police said that 44 cars had their tires punctured by what appeared to be knives. Nine were officers' personal cars. Sixteen were NYPD cars, vans and scooters and 19 were cars belonging to neighborhood residents.

Yesterday, a top police official who asked for anonymity told Newsday that police were investigating whether "the purpose may have been to take pressure off the cops in light of the Louima trial." Five cops now face federal charges stemming from the August, 1997, incident in which Louima, a Haitian immigrant, was allegedly beaten and sexually assaulted by them.

"Another purpose," he said, "may have been to discredit the Haitian community." Many Haitians, as well as Orthodox Jews, live on Lawrence Avenue, where the precinct is located, the official said. Some residents had their car tires' slashed as well.

"The whole thing stinks," said the official.

The precinct's commander, Insp. Raymond Diaz, disputed the theory that the attack was designed to divert attention from the troubled precinct. "I never heard anything like that at all," Diaz said, There's no reason I would suspect that. Why would they do that? It's ridiculous."

Deputy Inspector for Public Information Michael Collins declined to comment. A police source said "It's an active investigation."

Sources said Internal Affairs Bureau is looking into the matter. IAB Chief Charles Campisi could not be reached for comment.

Expanding on the "inside job" theory, the police official pointed out that, "The Haitian community is very respectful of the law . . . And it is hard to get into the block without being spotted a mile away. It is a long, linear, straight block, with no curves."

Diaz, however, said that after midnight "the street is like a ghost town." The slashing incident occurred at 3:40 a.m., police said.

The official pointed to another less publicized incident involving the defacing of a patrol car parked outside the stationhouse shortly after the Louima incident occurred. Many department officials, he said, believe the defacing may have been done by cops to paint themselves as victims.

"There was a Latin Kings gang sign marking on the hood," he said. "They the department dusted for prints. Magically, they came up with nothing."

The official explained said the information about the tire slashing had been conveyed to department investigators by police officers within the precinct.

"There appear to be two camps within the stationhouse," he said. "One supports the officers under siege. The others are distancing themselves."

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© 1998 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.