Jury Rejects Sodomy Claim in New York City Police Brutality Case
In a case that evokes images of Abner Louima, a police brutality case that alleged sodomy recently made its way to trial in a Manhattan federal court. Investment banker Ralph Johnson claimed that New York City police officers assaulted him when they responded to a domestic violence call in the summer of 2004.
In 2004, Johnson had an argument with his then live-in girlfriend, Alison Bongo. Bongo was upset about Johnson’s relationship with another woman, and she started breaking windows inside the couple’s apartment. Johnson carried Bongo to their doorstep and locked her out.
Neighbors took notice and called the police after hearing Bongo’s screams. When the officers arrived, Johnson alleged that they threw him to the ground, kicked and punched him, and pushed a baton into his rectum.
In court, the responding officers testified that Johnson was simply uncooperative and that they used the appropriate amount of force to take him into custody. They stated that he refused to let them into the apartment, ignored repeated commands to stand up and show his hands, and resisted when they used force to stand him up. The officers claimed that they were simply using the baton to separate his hands so that he could be cuffed.
Johnson introduced into evidence his jeans from that night, which had a hole in the seat. He brought lab results that indicated his DNA was present on the police baton that the officers used. A physician also testified that Johnson had bleeding and injuries that were consistent with his assault claim.
In December 2010, the jury rejected Johnson’s sodomy claim and reasoned that no evidence existed that proved Johnson’s claims of police brutality. The jury did, however, award Johnson $20,000 because he was wrongfully prosecuted for resisting arrest.
New York Police Brutality Cases
This wasn’t the first time New York police were accused of sodomizing someone.
A Brooklyn man, Michael Mineo, accused the police of using a baton to sodomize him on a subway platform in 2008. Criminal charges were filed against three police officers, but they were subsequently acquitted at trial. A civil lawsuit is currently pending.
In perhaps the most notorious case of police sodomy, Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant, was assaulted inside a police station bathroom with a plunger handle by several police officers in 1997. That assault occurred after Louima was arrested near a Brooklyn club. Two officers were charged and eventually sentenced to prison in the Louima case. Louima filed a civil lawsuit against the city and in 2001 received an $8.7 million settlement, the largest police brutality settlement in New York’s history.
If you believe you have been illegally victimized by a NYPD police officer, it’s important to consult with an experienced New York City police brutality lawyer who can protect your rights.