Sean Bell and his fiancee Nicole Paultre in an undated family photo. Bell was shot by New York City Police Nov. 25th 2006 as he left his bachelor’s party in Queens. He and Paultre were to be married later in the day.
The NYPD officers responsible for the barrage of 50-bullets that killed unarmed Sean Bell in 2006 will not face civil rights charges.
The justice department made the ruling Tuesday citing insufficient evidence.
The justice department has since released a statement saying that the three officers responsible for the murder of Bell did not violate his civil rights and that they did not find enough evidence to prove that the officers had willfully acted to deny him the rights given by the constitution. SMH…this is absolutely ridiculous. (Source)
In the early morning hours of Nov. 25, 2006, Sean Bell, a 23-year-old New York City man due to be married later that day, walked out of a Queens strip club, climbed into a gray Nissan Altima with two friends who had been celebrating with him – and died in a hail of 50 bullets fired by a group of five police officers. The groom, who was driving, was identified as Sean Bell. Joseph Guzman, 31, was in the front seat and was shot at least 11 times. Trent Benefield, 23, who was in the back seat, was hit three times. Both men were taken to Mary Immaculate Hospital. Guzman was listed in critical condition and Benefield was in stable condition.
It was reported that, according to an unnamed undercover officer, Guzman had an argument inside the club with a woman and threatened to get a gun. One of Bell’s friends was heard to say “yo, get my gun” as they left the scene Fearing a shooting might occur, African American plain-clothed officer Gescard Isnora followed the men to their car while alerting his backup team, prompting the team to confront Bell and his companions before they could leave the scene Isnora “held out his badge (by his account), identified himself as a police officer, and told the car to stop.. Instead, Bell accelerated the car and hit Isnora, then hit an unmarked police minivan. By all accounts, Gescard Isnora thought he saw Guzman reach for a gun while in the car, yelled “gun” to other police at the scene, and opened fire on the car. The other officers and detectives joined him in shooting at the car, firing 50 bullets in a few seconds.
A toxicology report showed that Bell was legally intoxicated at the time of the shooting. An attorney for the Bell family said in response to the report, “No matter what his blood-alcohol level was, he’s a victim.”
The shooting shocked the city and brought back memories of the deaths in other high-profile police shootings – in particular, the death of Amadou Diallo, an African peddler killed after police fired 41 shots at him in 1999. Both men were black and both were unarmed, although in both cases the officers appeared to have believed the suspect had a gun. While the death of Mr. Bell did not prompt the same levels of rage and protest as the Diallo case, it prompted unsettling questions about the changes in police procedures adopted in recent years, and about whether black men remained unfairly singled out for aggressive police action.
On March 16, 2007, a Queens grand jury voted to indict three detectives in the case, charging the two who had fired the bulk of the shots,Detective Michael Oliver and Detective Gescard F. Isnora, with first-degree and second-degree manslaughter, and the third, Detective Marc Cooper, with reckless endangerment.
The family of Sean Bell has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and is seeking help from President Obama in the case.