NEW YORK – Prosecutors are investigating allegations that five New York City police officers attacked a tattoo parlor worker and sodomized him with a walkie-talkie in a subway station.
The 24-year-old man says the officers then wrote him a disorderly conduct ticket and abandoned him as he was writhing in pain.
The police department disputes the allegations and strongly denies the man was sodomized.
"Police officers grappled with an individual who they observed smoking marijuana after he had fled and resisted being handcuffed. His assertion that he was sodomized is not supported by independent civilian witnesses on the scene," NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said in a statement.
The case is being investigated by the police department and the Brooklyn District Attorney's office.
The accusations brought back memories of the 1997 assault of Abner Louima, who was beaten and sodomized with a broomstick in a police precinct by officers in one of the most notorious cases of police brutality in NYPD history.
In the latest case, lawyers for the accuser came forward Thursday afternoon with the startling allegations, and a hospital confirmed that he was admitted on the day of the alleged attack and spent four days there.
The man sought medical care again on Thursday, complaining he was urinating blood and suffering lingering pain.
Lawyers say five police officers approached Michael Mineo on Oct. 15 around 12:30 p.m. because they believed he was smoking marijuana near a subway stop in Brooklyn.
When the tattoo parlor employee entered the station, he claims officers jumped him from behind, handcuffed him and wrestled him to the ground, according to attorney Stephen Jackson.
Mineo told his lawyers that he felt a foot on his neck as the officers beat him, then yanked down his pants and sodomized him with the walkie-talkie. The lawyers say the officers took the bleeding Mineo into a police car, wrote him a disorderly conduct ticket and left him at the subway station.
"My God, this just sent chills throughout my body when I heard this," Jackson said. "This is one of the most horrendous acts of police brutality."
One of Mineo's co-workers took him to the hospital, where he remained most of the week with internal injuries. His attorney says the hospital administrator contacted the Brooklyn District Attorney's office because it appeared Mineo was the victim of a sexual assault.
Jackson said medical records corroborate Mineo's story, but would not immediately provide copies of them. Mineo was not available to speak. Brookdale Hospital officials confirmed that he was admitted on Oct. 15 and discharged four days later.
Jackson said he and Mineo didn't go public with the allegations right away because they wanted to give prosecutors time to investigate.
A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said many initial details about the incident cast doubt on Mineo's claims.
For instance, the official said Mineo initially yelled at the scene that he had been shocked with a stun-gun by the officers, but none of the officers was carrying the weapon.
The Brooklyn District Attorney's office says it doesn't comment on any open investigations. Mineo was previously arrested in June on a charge of gang assault and criminal possession of a weapon.