RIVERHEAD, Long Island (PIX11) – A man who was chained to the floor of a police interrogation room was tortured by the chief of one of the country’s biggest police departments as well as a handful of officers, according to that man, who, in a graphic account of the denial of his rights, spoke in public Wednesday for the first time.
The man is Christopher Loeb, 27, and in Suffolk County Criminal Court, he was called to the stand in a pretrial hearing Wednesday afternoon. In his testimony, the man who’s charged with stealing items from about a dozen cars last December spoke in detail of how he was brutalized by police officers, including by Suffolk County police chief James Burke. He also said that Chief Burke had possessed “nasty porn” in a duffel bag Burke had stolen from the chief. Loeb also said that he was denied access to an attorney for three days after his arrest, and that police also prohibited him for those three days from going before a judge. The law requires a suspect to appear before a judge within 24 hours of his arrest.
Among the specifics of Loeb’s testimony on Wednesday was his arrest photo. In the picture, he said, his left eye is swollen, and he has a scrape above his left eyebrow.
According to Loeb, the photo was taken ten hours after four police officers took turns beating him up while his hands were cuffed and attached by a six-inch chain to the floor of a cell inside the Suffolk County Fourth Precinct last December. The chief of police, James Burke, according to Loeb, cleared the abusive officers out the interrogation room to beat Loeb up himself.
Last December, Loeb stole items from about a dozen vehicles in the village of Saint James, near Smithtown, Long Island. One of those vehicles was the unmarked police SUV of Chief James Burke, from which Loeb stole a duffel bag.
Burke not only showed up at the young man’s house to arrest Loeb, according to police testimony, the chief then had officers take Loeb to the Fourth Precinct.
There, Loeb said, Detective Anthony Leto and three other officers gave him a beatdown.
According to Loeb’s testimony, “[Detective] Leto said, ‘Have you ever been choked out before?'” then, said Loeb, Leto “whispered in my ear, while he was choking me, ‘I’m gonna rape your f***ing mother.'”
“He put his hand on my throat, squeezed my throat… that’s the last thing I remember. …I passed out.”
Loeb said his beating lasted about 15 minutes, when Chief Burke arrived and cleared everyone out of the room.
“He grabbed me by my cheeks….” Loeb said in court about the chief. “He took his thumb and four fingers and squeezed my face.” Then, said Loeb, “He punched me right above my hairline”
The larceny suspect also said that after the chief denied his repeated requests for an attorney, “I called him a name. I’m not gonna say that name,” Loeb testified, “Because it pertains to the items in the duffel bag” that Loeb had stolen from the chief.
Loeb further testified that at the precinct, he’d said the chief had “nasty porn” in his bag, to which the chief said, according to Loeb, “No one will ever f***in’ believe me because I’m a convicted felon and a dope head.”
It’s also been said in court by an arresting officer in recent weeks that Burke removed the duffel bag — a key piece of evidence — from Loeb’s home where he’d been arrested.
Chief Burke is expected in court Thursday, to tell his side of the story in this days-long preliminary hearing. It has been called to try to determine if Loeb’s confession to larceny was coerced.
In court, Loeb admitted to signing a larceny confession, but two different confessions were introduced into evidence. The second confession, Loeb said he had not signed. The alleged forgery, Loeb said, he didn’t know about for months after he was arrested and put in jail.
The FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office and New York State Police are, in a separate legal action, investigating the accusations that Burke abused Loeb.