'Officer F' mires case in mystery
July 23, 2001
When a mystery officer surfaced last week in the Abner Louima case before the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, it sounded promising for former officer Charles Schwarz.
But like most witnesses in this extraordinary brutality case, which shows no signs of ending, the credibility of the mystery officer known as "Officer F" - like that of Schwarz, his partner Thomas Wiese and a third officer, Thomas Bruder - leaves much in doubt.
Officer F is said to have discredited Officer Eric Turetzky, who provided key testimony against Schwarz when Schwarz was fingered as the "second cop" in the bathroom of the 70th Precinct stationhouse during Officer Justin Volpe's attack on Louima. Turetzky had testified he saw Schwarz leading Louima toward the bathroom moments before the assault.
Although convicted in two trials, Schwarz maintains he was never in the bathroom with Louima. He also maintains he never led Louima from the front desk toward the bathroom, a statement even some supporters in the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association don't believe.
Those supporters say Schwarz lied not because he was in the bathroom but to hide his turning over Louima to Volpe, which under the circumstances was a firable offense. [Immediately after the incident, those supporters say, Schwarz, Wiese and Bruder apparently did not realize the seriousness of the crime and were more concerned with keeping their jobs.]
Officer F - whose sealed affidavit was disclosed in oral arguments in Thursday's appeals court hearing - maintains Turetzky said he was uncertain whether Schwarz or Wiese, the precinct's PBA delegate, escorted Louima to the bathroom.
Wiese has maintained that he, not Schwarz, was the second officer in the bathroom but says he entered only after the attack had ended. Even his supporters don't believe him and suspect he entered the bathroom during the assault. Those supporters say he lied to hide the fact that he neither stopped Volpe's assault nor reported it - both firable offenses.
Officer F has been identified by police union sources as Sgt. Patrick Walsh of Brooklyn South Inspections, who police department officials say retired in July 2000 on a medical disability. Why he did not come forward until now, a year after his retirement, and how serious his medical problems are or were at the time he spoke with Turetzky will impact on his credibility. Already, 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care have called on federal prosecutors to investigate Officer F.
And here's the final rub. If Turetzky mistook Wiese for Schwarz, and if Wiese, not Schwarz, was the second officer in the bathroom, why did Schwarz not raise that at his first trial?
Although in possession of Wiese's statements to investigators, admitting he was in the bathroom, Schwarz' attorney, Stephen Worth, argued at the first trial that Volpe alone was in the bathroom with Louima, who Worth said fabricated the second cop to bring more attention to the case.
In his summation, Worth claimed that Louima had made up the second cop to preserve his "manhood" and "dignity." Not for nothing did those arguments become the subject of ridicule last week by the lawyers arguing Schwarz' appeal and by the Second Circuit's judges who heard it.
Not for nothing is Schwarz serving 15 years.
Bloomberg's campaign manager Bill Cunningham says Safir lauded his $250-million overtime program known as Condor, but did not mention his rapid expansion of the Street Crime Unit, which on Feb. 4, 1999, resulted in four unprepared officers firing 41 shots at Amadou Diallo, striking him 19 times.
Bloomberg also met 10 days ago with former deputy commissioner Ed Norris, now Baltimore's police commissioner. Cunningham says Bloomberg has also had "a number of conversations" with former commissioner Ray Kelly.
Kerik may be forging a new career in Hollywood with his autobiography, "The Lost Son," but whether he extends Safir's detail and remains Giuliani's water boy is still uncertain.
Safir may or may not be the greatest police commissioner in city history, but without question he's the greatest schnorrer.
© 2001 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.