Friday, April 25, 2008

3 NYPD Detectives Acquitted In Sean Bell Hearing

3 NYPD detectives acquitted in groom slaying
Sean Bell, 23, killed in hail of 50 bullets on night of his bachelor party

NEW YORK - Three NYPD detectives were acquitted Friday of all counts in the 50-shot killing of an unarmed man on his wedding day.
Michael Oliver, Gescard Isnora and Marc Cooper were charged with manslaughter, reckless endangerment and assault in the 2006 slaying of Sean Bell.
Justice Arthur Cooperman delivered the verdict in a Queens courtroom packed with spectators, including the victim's fiance and parents. The ruling brings an end to a nearly two-month trial.

Bell, 23, was killed and two friends were seriously wounded early on the morning of Nov. 25, 2006 — Bell's wedding day. The shooting sparked protests and raised questions about police firepower and undercover tactics.
During the trial, defense attorneys painted the victims as drunken thugs who the officers believed were armed and dangerous. Prosecutors sought to convince the judge that the victims had been minding their own business and that the officers were inept, trigger-happy aggressors.

"This F-Troop of a unit caused the death of an innocent man and caused the injury of two others," prosecutor Charles Testagrossa said, referring to the classic TV sitcom. "This was a slipshod operation, with no real planning."

Community supportBell's fiancee, parents and their supporters, including the Rev. Al Sharpton and other activists, have demanded that the officers be held accountable. Sharpton said he has sought to temper outrage over the shooting of three unarmed black men and let the trial take its course. Two of the three officers are black.

"We gave the city an opportunity to show that we would be a new city of fairness," he told reporters at City Hall earlier this week.

The defendants, who were investigating reports of prostitution at the Kalua Cabaret, say they became alarmed when they heard Bell and his friends trade insults around the 4 a.m. closing time with another patron who appeared to be armed. In grand jury testimony, Isnora claimed that he overheard one of Bell's companions, Joseph Guzman, say, "Yo, go get my gun."
Isnora responded by trailing Bell, Guzman and Trent Benefield to Bell's car. He insisted that he ordered the men to halt and that he and other officers began shooting only after Bell bumped him with his car and slammed into an unmarked police van while trying to flee.

Guzman and Benefield both played down the dispute outside the club. They also testified that they were unaware police were watching them and that the gunfire erupted without warning.

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1 comment:

Lamonia said...

As a mother of three sons, (2 just over 20 and one "tween") I cannot stop crying this morning. I love them so much and it is very scary to think that, on any given night, they may fall prey to the undiscerning hands of NYPD. How many parents, spouses, siblings and other family members have to go through this before this police force is corrected or at least addressed? I have a sense of panic that wants to tell my boys "Never, ever go out at night, because anything you have in your hand can be mistaken for a gun and NYPD will be justified in shooting you as many times as they wish. So stay home after dark!" But then I would be setting them back decades in time, back to a time when they really WOULDN'T be safe on the streets at night, and they COULD really be killed and it would be justified. So instead, I will pray. I will pray for my sons' safety at all times. I will pray for the family of Sean Bell, especially his young daughters who now have to grow up without their daddy. I will pray that Justice Cooperman realizes that he is delusional, incapable of impartial judging and removes himself from the bench. I will pray that Detectives Oliver, Isnora and Cooper one day understand how destructive their fatal error was to both Sean Bell's family and this entire city, and that they will ask for forgiveness. Most of all, I will pray that I can stop crying and that I will not be afraid. And that something will be done so that the mothers of sons living in NYC will not lose them to this violent New York City police department.