Three Strikes Is Still an Out

One More Jury Convicts a Cop Without a Conscience

Just after filing a complaint that Louima punched him in the face at the street riot that occurred outside a nightclub, Schwarz did not walk Louima to the bathroom because he wanted to accommodate his prisoner's bowel or kidney needs. He didn't pull Louima's underpants down for that reason, either. The naked walk to the bathroom was a humiliating prelude to what would happen inside it. The seclusion of the bathroom was precisely why Schwarz took him there.

That's why Volpe is heard on the prison tape bemoaning the fact that "the other guy's going home [Schwarz] and I'm going to be rotting in these fucking places," and even mysteriously calling Schwarz "a fucking scumbag who fucking tried to wreck my life." Why is Volpe so angry at Schwarz? Volpe, argued the prosecutors in summation, "thinks it's unfair and unjust because they did a crime together and he's paying the full price for it"—the only explanation that makes sense. A fourth trial would be intriguing, just to see what Volpe does the next time, or whether Schwarz, who entertains the media ad nauseam, will take the stand, as he did to his own detriment the second time but refrained from doing most recently.

Fischetti, Schwarz, and their media chorus have defamed everyone involved in the case, assailing Louima, Turetzky, Vinegrad, and the deceased judge from the first two trials, Eugene Nickerson, in particular. The Post story the day of the verdict called it "vile" in a headline, and on the front page managed to depict the prosecutors as "reeling." The Post has also favorably quoted a priest who says Vinegrad "should be arrested" and Volpe's father, of all people, suggesting that Vinegrad is a "rogue prosecutor" who should be monitored by psychiatrists.

Blasted as a "viper" in the Post and as Inspector Javert in this newspaper, Vinegrad has actually received the Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service and the Bar Association's Stimson Medal for outstanding prosecution.

Though the Schwarz case is repeatedly depicted as his personal obsession, he was in private practice in February 1998, when Schwarz was indicted, returning that September at the personal request of New York's first black U.S. Attorney, Zachary Carter, who soon asked him to take over this racially charged case. With two young children to support, he gave up a far more lucrative position to come back to public service. Incredibly, this embodiment of a real law enforcement officer has been more sullied by the media mudslingers drawn to this high-profile case than the man nailed by 36 ordinary New Yorkers.


Research assistance: Ross Goldberg, Rebecca Isenberg, Matteen Mokalla, Nate Schwebber, Emily Weinstein


Related Article:

How Would You Vote as a Juror in the Schwarz Trial? by Nat Hentoff

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