A man filed a $220 million lawsuit today claiming that New York Police Department officers robbed him of his civil rights by sodomizing him with a baton in a subway station.
Michael Mineo, a body piercer who works in a tattoo parlor, spelled out his allegations in graphic terms after exiting federal court in Brooklyn with his lawyers.
"I'm embarrassed," the 24-year-old told reporters. "I didn't ask for this to happen to me. ... I'm a man. I was raped by four men who held me down and put a baton in my rectum. How am I supposed to feel?"
The suit against the city, NYPD and four officers alleges the patrolmen conspired to violate Mineo's rights on Oct. 15 with a "willfully malicious and vicious assault." It says the attack caused "extreme physical, mental and emotional harm and distress" and "exposed the plaintiff to public scandal and disgrace."
The city Law Department said it would "thoroughly review" the court papers but declined to comment further.
Three officers named as defendants in the suit were charged last year in a criminal indictment. Officer Richard Kern pleaded not guilty to sexual abuse and assault; and Alex Cruz and Andrew Morales pleaded not guilty to hindering prosecution and official misconduct on suspicion of covering up a crime. All three have vehemently denied the any wrongdoing.
Prosecutors allege that Kern and Morales spotted Mineo outside the subway station smoking marijuana. After they sought to stop him, he fled into the station, jumped a turnstile, ran toward the platform and hurdled another turnstile before he was pinned, handcuffed near a token booth and searched for drugs, they said.
With Mineo in a "helpless position" with his pants down, Kern took out a retractable baton and shoved it into the victim's buttocks, prosecutor said. The baton pierced Mineo's underwear, tore his rectum and drew blood, they said.
To cover his tracks and with the other officers' knowledge, Kern wrote Mineo "a bogus summons" that was purposely backdated so it would be invalid, then warned him to keep quiet or face a felony, prosecutors said.
Police initially questioned Mineo's account and allowed the officers to stay on duty. But the case gained momentum in late October after Mineo's lawyers went public with his allegations and the district attorney launched a grand jury investigation.
If convicted, Kern could face up to 25 years in prison; the others could face up to four years.
The case brings to mind the infamous 1997 incident in which Haitian immigrant Abner Louima was sodomized with a plunger in a Brooklyn stationhouse. NYPD Officer Justin Volpe later pleaded guilty in the attack and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Four other cops were also charged in that case, but only one, Charles Schwarz, was convicted and sentenced to prison.
New York settled a civil suit with Louima for $8.5 million.