5 New York Police Officers Plead Not Guilty to Torturing Suspects

Associated Press

Five police officers pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of torturing drug suspects with electric stun guns and beating them with blackjacks.

Among those indicted was Lt. Steven Cheswick, who was assigned to supervise other officers' conduct. The indictment charged Cheswick, integrity control officer of the 106th Precinct, and four other officers with beating four drug suspects.

All but Cheswick also were accused of prodding suspects with an electric stun gun.

Beatings on Street

According to the indictment, the beatings took place on a street, in a police car and in one of the victim's homes, and the electric shocks were administered in the station house.

The allegations of brutality surfaced last week and have forced a high-level shake-up in the city's Police Department.

Dist. Atty. John Santucci said the grand jury returned the indictments Thursday despite the refusal of the officers' colleagues to testify.

"I am not satisfied that we have done everything . . . to get to the root of these cases," he said. "But I was unable under the current law to call officers before the grand jury to compel testimony without giving immunity from prosecution."

Although the case remained open, Santucci said, further arrests were not imminent.

The indictment charged Sgt. Richard Pike and Officers Loren MacCary and Jeffrey Gilbert with assault, possession of a weapon, coercion, attempted coercion, misconduct and conspiracy.

Officer Michael Aranda faced the same charges, except for coercion, and Cheswick was charged with assault, weapons possession, misconduct and conspiracy. The most serious of the charges, assault and coercion, carry maximum prison terms of seven years.

Released Without Bail

At the officers' arraignment, Judge John Gallagher dismissed one of two conspiracy counts and then released all five without bail.

Cheswick was suspended last week, and the other four were suspended and arrested.

In addition to those cases, Santucci and police were trying to learn Thursday if it was an unmarked police car that hit an 11-year-old girl on a bicycle outside her home and drove away, leaving her slightly injured.

Witnesses to the accident Saturday said a car with a red flasher on the dashboard hit the girl in front of her home as she was riding her bicycle, stopped briefly and then drove off.

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