By MICHAEL SCHREIBER
On a hot June night three years ago, police officers in Irvington, N.J., assaulted and tortured a Haitian American man, Max Antoine, in front of his family and friends.
According to the witnesses, Max Antoine had done nothing illegal, nothing to provoke the cops. And yet, the force of the attack has left him with massive internal injuries, partially blind and deaf, and paralyzed from the waist down.
Since that night, not only have the Irvington Township authorities protected the cops from punishment but they are pressing charges against Antoine-the victim-for allegedly resisting arrest.
Meanwhile, the mass media-instead of crusading for justice and compensation for Max Antoine-is ignoring the entire issue.
The police attack occurred on June 2, 1996, at the birthday party of Max’s sister, which was held at her Irvington apartment.
The cops-Phillip Rucker, Keith Stouch, and Alfredo Aleman-interrupted the party and requested that the music be turned down. Fifteen minutes later, the cops returned, although the music had been lowered, and forcibly entered the apartment.
Guests at the party report that the police yelled at them, “Get the fuck out! The party’s over!” while they began to ransack the premises-presumably looking for drugs.
After the cops overheard Max tell his wife to write down their badge numbers, they reportedly became infuriated. They pushed Max’s wife and sister (who was six months pregnant). They then grabbed Max by the neck and beat him with their nightsticks as he screamed in pain.
When Max’s sister demanded to know why the cops were assaulting her brother, one of the cops replied, “I will teach him American law.”
The cops proceeded to drag Max down the stairs. They shoved his head into a storm door with such force that it shattered the glass. They then sprayed a burning chemical into his face, which destroyed his left eye.
Max was imprisoned for two days in a holding cell. Although he was bleeding, the police refused to allow any medical treatment or a phone call. When he called for help, an officer told him, “Die like a man.”
As a result of the police attack, Max is confined to a wheel chair. His injuries include bowel, bladder, and sexual dysfunction, brain trauma, loss of vision in his left eye, and loss of hearing in his left ear.
Until the attack, Max Antoine had a bright future. He owned a multi-service business (accounting, notary public, and delivery).
Today, Max is unable to work and cannot even afford necessary medical expenses. He, his wife, and two children live on social security disability in poverty. Max depends upon volunteers to transport him in his wheelchair.
The Irvington authorities maintain that Max’s injuries were self-inflicted.
If we are to believe their story, Max allegedly broke free of the cops while handcuffed, threw himself down the steps headfirst into a storm door, sprayed himself, and then refused medical treatment for two days.
Max’s trial was originally set to open on July 26 in Newark, N.J. It was postponed, however, after the defense attorney, Jean D. Larosilierc, objected to the appointment of a judge who had previously served in Irvington Township and had political ties there.
A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 3 to decide on a new judge, a new prosecutor, and a new trial date. All 23 guests who were at the party are reportedly willing to testify in Max’s behalf.
Meanwhile, Max Antoine is proceeding with his own civil suit against the Irvington authorities.