U.S. News

NY convenes grand jury in police sodomy allegation

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York prosecutor convened a grand jury on Tuesday to hear evidence into allegations by a man that he was beaten and sodomized by police officers.

Lawyers for Michael Mineo, 24, allege he was followed into a subway station in the New York borough of Brooklyn on October 15 by four uniformed officers who stopped him on suspicion of smoking marijuana, handcuffed him and then assaulted him.

“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, I have ordered a special investigative grand jury to be impaneled,” Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said in a statement.

A grand jury determines whether there is sufficient proof of criminality to issue an indictment.

The Mineo incident has sparked charges of police brutality and recalls the case of Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant who police sodomized with a broken broomstick in the bathroom of a Brooklyn police station in 1997.

Mineo, whose parents are Hispanic and white, was forced to the ground by the officers, said his lawyer, Kevin Mosley. “He felt his pants being pulled... and then felt something forcibly shoved into his rectum,” he said.

Mineo, who works at a tattoo parlor, was hospitalized for five days with rectal injuries and severe abdominal pain. He was issued a summons for disorderly conduct.

Police spokesman Paul Browne said the incident is under investigation by the police Internal Affairs Bureau and said eyewitnesses had contradicted Mineo’s account.

The duty status of the officers involved in the incident is unchanged, but they have been removed from patrol duty and given administrative assignments, Browne said on Tuesday.

“It was because of the media focus,” Browne said. “We didn’t want them to not be able to do patrol duty.”

In the 1997 Louima case, one officer was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in the attack and a second officer was given five years for perjury.

Reporting by Edith Honan; editing by Michelle Nichols and Philip Barbara