One in the Chamber

A reluctant witness to the alleged torture of Abner Louima contemplated suicide as the 'blue wall of silence' crumbled

Aleman, however, was more interested in exposing the FBI's alleged harassment of him. "So what was your business in Staten Island?" he says one agent asked him.

"Why would you throw us something like that, a surprise?" one of the prosecutors chimed in.

Aleman told the investigators that after his first meeting with them he felt they had "turned [his] life upside down" by putting him and Rosario under surveillance. "You fucking had us followed," Aleman charged.

A top prosecutor expressed surprise. "I didn't have anybody followed," said the prosecutor, looking around the room for an explanation from the FBI agents. Aleman says the agent who had asked him about the meeting in Staten Island turned red. He interpreted that to mean that the agent feared he would get into trouble for not conferring with his superiors.

"I did not fucking have anybody fucking follow you," the prosecutor reiterated. "So don't think it came from this office." The prosecutor also denied that the sergeant had worn a wire when he met with Aleman and Rosario.

Aleman told the prosecutor that when it appeared he was not going to cooperate with the investigation, "you pretty much threatened to arrest me. I expected you to come to my house . . . and lock me up. Now if you're gonna lock me up, you think I'm gonna make your fucking work easy?"

When Edward Jenks, Aleman's lawyer, denied the federal charges— accusing authorities of arresting Aleman and Rosario to keep them from testifying as witnesses for the other indicted cops— eyebrows were raised.

Maybe Jenks was grandstanding. How could Aleman take the stand in defense of a cop like Justin Volpe, the man he called a "cocky fuck"— the man prosecutors say jammed the plunger up Louima's rectum?

Maybe Aleman— who has been suspended from the force— understands his dilemma. Maybe he's resigned to the fact that if he does not cut a deal with the feds, he could face five years in prison. Maybe he knows that if he becomes a "cheese eater," he's accepted the contention that retribution for violating the code of silence is inevitable. Maybe this good cop, so far out on the edge of the blue wall, has conquered those "stupid thoughts" after all.

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