Monday in New York State Supreme Court, Michael Mineo took the stand to describe his nightmarish experience in a Brooklyn subway station in 2008: Being held down by three New York City police officers and sodomized with a police baton.
Mineo’s crime? Smoking marijuana.
The Brooklyn cops chased Mineo into the station after they saw him smoking pot, reports Tony Newman at AlterNet.
Mineo says the cops tackled him and that one of them sodomized him with a police baton. The cops then gave him a summons, and threatened he’d be served with a felony charge if he went to the hospital for treatment or to the police station to report what had happened.
The story is corroborated by eyewitnesses, including a transit police officer. The three officers accused in the brutal attack are now on trial.
|Michael Mineo recovering in the hospital after being assaulted and sodomized by police officers|
Mineo said he felt four sharp jabs into his backside as he lay on the ground of the subway station, handcuffed and surrounded by cops.
“I was in pain, I was disoriented, I saw a white light,” Mineo testified. Some jurors winced or shook their heads as he detailed the attack and his intense pain.
Mineo spent about five days recovering in the hospital after the attack.
The defense’s strategy to discredit Mineo’s testimony is, according to Newman, to paint him as a lying, marijuana-smoking criminal with no credibility, and who is suing the city to make money.
“This is your payday, isn’t it?” Stuart London, one of the lawyers representing the officers accused of sodomizing Mineo, asked the victim in court.
“I didn’t ask for this, man,” Mineo replied to London. “I don’t want to be here right now. Do you know how embarrassing this is for me?”
Mineo is, in fact, a marijuana user and a gang member who has a Crips tattoo across his stomach, reports Colleen Long at The Huffington Post. But that, of course, doesn’t mean the cops accused in his case are innocent.
Officer Richard Kern, who allegedly used the baton on Mineo, is charged with aggravated sexual abuse and assault. Officers Alex Cruz and Andrew Morales are charged with hindering prosecution and official misconduct. All three have pleaded not guilty.
Kern could get 25 years in prison if convicted. The other two officers face up to four years.
N.Y. Doesn’t ♥ Weed
New York City has been the pot-bust capitol of the world for more than a decade, ever since — for unaccountable reasons — Rudolph Giuliani’s decision to make marijuana a top police priority.
A 2008 study sponsored by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) said the city’s cannabis crackdown is both racist and fraudulent. According to government surveys, the city’s marijuana-arrest rate for blacks is more than five times the rate for whites.
The NYPD has arrested almost 400,000 people for misdemeanor marijuana possession in the past decade. The vast majority of those charged have been black or Latino men, most under 25.
And according to the NYCLU study, thousands of them are the victims of police scams, falsely charged with possessing marijuana “burning or open to public view.”
“We are confident in estimating that about two-thirds to three-quarters of the people arrested were not smoking marijuana,” the study said. “Usually they were doing their utmost to keep their marijuana concealed, generally deep inside their clothing.
New York decriminalized pot back in 1977, making possession of less than 25 grams a violation, carrying a $100 fine and no criminal record. But — and this is a big but — smoking or possession in public is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to three months in jail.
So in order to get around restrictions in searches, and to find a valid reason to make an arrest rather than just writing a ticket, New York City police often use deception.
Typically, police stop someone near a suspected marijuana-sales site and tell them something like, “We saw you coming out of the weed spot. If you have anything you’re not supposed to have, give it to me and I’ll write you a ticket.”
If the suspect falls for the ruse and hands over his pot, he is then arrested for displaying it in public view.