The allegations of Michael Mineo, that he was anally raped by police officers, who caught him smoking a joint outside a subway station in Prospect Park, seemed shocking to me. Echoes of Abner Louima rang in my ears. Not in yours? Not in a lot of people’s. We have apparently reached the age when a police officer shoving an object up someone’s rectum is…ordinary.
According to MSNBC, two, and maybe three, of New York’s Finest will be arraigned today, after a Transit Police officer flipped and testified against them in the grand jury.
Prosecutors have asked two patrolmen to turn themselves in to face charges in the case of a tattoo parlor worker who claims he was sodomized with police equipment during an arrest on a Brooklyn subway platform, the officers’ lawyers said Monday.
Officers Richard Kern and Alex Cruz were to be arraigned Tuesday on charges contained in a sealed indictment, the lawyers said. A third officer also was expected to surrender.
This should be the sort of crime that sends shockwaves through the city. Instead, it barely makes the news at all. The New York Times has a short piece on it, with a primary focus on how Richard Kern is described by fellow officers as a “conscientious and fair” cop.
Going forward, much of the focus of the case will fall on Officer Kern because of the allegation that it was his baton that was reported to have come in contact with Mr. Mineo’s rectum. In recent days, the officer’s colleagues stepped forward to say that those accounts are at odds with the conscientious, responsible man they knew.
“He just wanted to be a good cop,” recalled Kevin Clark, a retired officer who worked with Officer Kern for about a year in the 71st Precinct.
Twice previously, Officer Kern was accused of using excessive force. but his lawyer said he was cleared in both cases by the Civilian Complaint Review Board. One of the incidents, in 2007, prompted two lawsuits that the city agreed to settle for a total of $50,000.
Nothing out of the ordinary there.
Some think that every exposure of police corruption or abuse is another nail in the coffin of the cop culture that enables conduct like this. My fear is that we become increasingly inured to it. When something like this happens and it barely causes an eye to blink, we are in deep trouble. What will it take to make people sit up and take notice. What will it take to make Joe Six-Pack care?
Greybear left a comment that summed things up better than I could:
Just as abused children will retain their attachment to the abusive parent because of their own needs, the vast majority of the population will continue to ignore the abuses by their “protectors.” That denial makes it possible for them to maintain the illusion that they are being kept safe and secure, even when the evidence leads to the inescapable conclusion that they are in more danger from the “protectors” than they are from the bogeymen they are threatened with. I’m afraid I don’t see this changing anytime soon.
If this story makes you yawn, I don’t know what will get your juices flowing. If anal rape falls into the category of everyday police abuse, we have become too jaded for explanation. And if anybody comments that if Mineo didn’t want to be “bothered” by the police, he shouldn’t have smoked a joint at the Prospect Park subway station, I’m going to go off on it. Be warned.