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The Kings County District Attorney’s office has empanelled a special grand jury to investigate an alleged molestation at a Flatbush train station that’s brought everyone in the borough back to the summer of 1997, when the horrid assault on Haitian immigrant Abner Louima brought police-community relations to an all new low.
Yet despite the haunting similarities, the charges made by tattoo artist Michael Mineo have not evoked the public outcry that the Louima case catalyzed over 11 years ago.
Mineo — who has hired an attorney and has said that he plans to sue the city — claims that he was chased through the Prospect Park train station on the afternoon of Oct. 15, thrown onto the platform and then sodomized with a police radio by four cops arresting him for marijuana possession.
Mineo, who is half Hispanic, half white, was taken into custody and ultimately given a summons for disorderly conduct.
But Mineo’s attorney, Kevin Mosley, said that the injuries inflicted by the cops left his client in the hospital for upwards of a week with rectal injuries and abdominal pain.
His client distinctly remembers the cops pulling down his pants and then feeling “something forced into his rectum,” Mosley said.
So far, Mineo has received the support of the Reverend Al Sharpton, who also stood by Abner Louima after cops from the 70th Precinct in Flatbush sodomized him in a precinct bathroom with a broomstick.
Still, residents and critics of the NYPD aren’t voicing their outrage in this case.
“The people are not crying; that shows that they have doubts in their minds,” explained one police source, who said that witnesses on the train platform on the day of the attack saw Mineo get arrested, but not sodomized.
The four officers charged with attacking Mineo have not been suspended but instead given desk assignments until the investigation is concluded.
In a statement released this week, Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes said that he put together the special investigative grand jury “on the basis of preliminary conclusions of the early stages of my investigation and a review of the medical evidence concerning the allegations that Michael Mineo was brutally assaulted by four police officers.”
It may take several weeks for the investigation to release its findings, officials said.
The announcement of the grand jury came with the blessing of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
“With differing accounts provided by witnesses and the complainant, we welcome efforts by District Attorney Hynes to establish the facts through an investigative grand jury,” he said in a statement.
Officials from the Kings County District Attorney’s office are currently collecting information about the case from a special hotline for those with information regarding the attack.
A spokesperson for Hynes said that they have received “several phone calls” from the hotline so far.
Yet, no matter what the investigation may find, area community leaders do not believe that the borough is looking for a repeat of the summer of 1997.
“I’ve been hearing some rumblings, but it’s not quite the same outrage,” said Ed Powell, the president of the 70th Precinct Community Council, who was on hand when the leadership structure of the Lawrence Avenue precinct was shaken up in the wake of the assault on Louima. “It’s probably because people have come to trust the police officers a lot more than they once did.”
Powell said that it would be “disturbing” if the special grand jury does find the officers responsible for Mineo’s injuries.
“I can’t speak for the NYPD, but I think that police officers in general learned a valuable lesson with Louima,” Powell said. “But like any large group of people, there are those who refuse to learn.”
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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