Friday, April 25, 2008

Police in Groom Shooting Aquitted

A man was shot 50 times the night before his wedding in front of a New York City night club. Three police officers were charged with manslaughter, assault and reckless endangerment in the death of Sean Bell. Mayor Bloomberg issued this statement, "An innocent man lost his life, a bride lost her groom, two daughters lost their father, and a mother and a father lost their son. No verdict could ever end the grief that those who knew and loved Sean Bell suffer. America is a nation of laws, and though not everyone will agree with the verdicts and opinions issued by the courts, we accept their authority." Al Sharpton was there for some reason I am not sure why. He is an opportunist and a grand-stander so I guess he was taking a moment for a photo-op. It would appear that 2 of the officers were African American so I don't think this is a white on black crime. Maybe that doesn't explain it away, but I would hate to see the reaction had all of the officers involved been white. 50 shots seems pretty extreme to me, but I wasn't there. New York would be a scary place to be a police officer and I bet I could put a few panic holes in any suspect at any given time. The dynamics of this story are tragic all around. These police officers were young men in a tough part of town. CNN explained what happened this way:
"Bell was killed just before dawn on his wedding day, November 25, 2006. He and several friends were winding up an all-night bachelor party at the Kalua Club in Queens, a strip club that was under investigation by a NYPD undercover unit looking into complaints of guns, drugs and prostitution. Undercover detectives were inside the club, and plainclothes officers were stationed outside. Witnesses said that about 4 a.m., closing time, as Bell and his friends left the club, an argument broke out. Believing that one of Bell's friends, Joseph Guzman, was going to get a gun from Bell's car, one of the undercover detectives followed the men and called for backup.
What happened next was at the heart of the trial, prosecuted by the assistant district attorney in Queens. Bell, Guzman and Trent Benefield got into the car, with Bell at the wheel. The detectives drew their weapons, said Guzman and Benefield, who testified that they never heard the plainclothes detectives identify themselves as police. Bell was in a panic to get away from the armed men, his friends testified.
But the detectives thought Bell was trying to run down one of them, believed that their lives were in danger and started shooting, according to their lawyers. A total of 50 bullets were fired by five NYPD officers. Only three were charged with crimes.
No gun was found near Bell or his friends. Soon after his death, Bell's fiancee, Nicole Paultre, legally changed her name to Nicole Paultre Bell. She is raising the couple's two daughters, ages 5 and 1."

This is a terrible tragedy let's hope justice was found. I tend to lean on the side of the police in this one. The media has been very vague in the details of this story perhaps to generate a controversial connection to the lacking facts. I feel like more information is needed to properly give a judgement. Nothing can explain away the pain of this woman whose fiance' was killed the night before their wedding. I do know that for sure.


ba and the boys said...

i remember this happening and i thought it was so sad. the kids growing up without a dad...
i also tend to side on the police. the men from the wedding were drunk and may have been acting dumb from that. i dont know.
al shartpon is a media-whore who will do anything to have the cameras on him (same with gloria allread, but that is another post). the last i heard, he hadnt made a statement, but im sure it will be coming.
and i am certain that the police in theis case, although they werent convicted, will live with the pain of killing an innocent person the rest of their lives. that cant be good either.

namaste said...

nikki, thank you for doing a post on this subject. i have been following this story on and off since it's AWFUL beginning. i do not side with ANYONE on this story. my heart simply goes out to sean bell's family. his fiance has been nothing but class for the duration of this difficult tragedy, which is the reason al sharpton has not been allowed to make a lot of noise in this case. his involvement is about ONE thing: MONEY. his agency of affiliation, the National Action Network, has been retained (actually he showed up at the bell family's door and volunteered) and they will follow this case all the way to the civil suit end where he will surely be asking for his cut- f**cker!

i digress...

sadly the jury was given a tremendous and difficult task. they could only look at what was presented as evidence and how the attorneys presented their case. it is my belief that sean bell, who was having his bachelor party at a strip club this fateful night, lost his life because his closest associations were a group of THUGS. the defense pummeled these inarticulate guys on the stand and revealed them for the bad boys they were.

sean bell, who had no criminal record, his hope for justice lay at the feet of these witnesses. THIS is the shit that has always scared me for my daughters. i could do an entire post on this, but i feel it's important to respond here as fully as i can. as a society, we have evolved slowly away from racial injustices and prejudices that began our country. the citizens of america are still adjusting to our legally fair, more peaceable society. unfortunately there are still a lot of PISSED OFF black people. they and their families out-number families like mine and the bells and the paultries (his fiance's family). and before our kids find peaceable, functional living with good citizens, they choose the in-crowd. the in-crowd come from homes with very different values, the values of the pissed-off.

my daughters have been in harms way many times because of keeping company with the in-crowd. for all i know they will be in harms way a dozen more times before they leave the in-crowd completely alone and find friends and boyfriends with backgrounds more aligned with them. but i feel for them because families like ours, like the bells, and the paultries are FAR AND FEW BETWEEN.

we will never know what really happened the night sean bell was killed. all we know is versions of the story. absolutely, yes, 50 bullets are excessive! but they were all drunk. and who knows what kind bold behavior they displayed to spook the crap out of these cops. and they were in a neighborhood that i would not be caught in after dark, lest i be mistaken for a prostitute.

nik, thanks again for spotlighting this story and thanks for indulging my long comment. hugs! :)

ba and the boys said...

maria-thanks for that post.

Nikki said...

Maria...yes thank you for your thoughts on this. There are so many angles to this story and I feel so bad for all involved. I do think Al is as you said in it for the money and for appearances. A lot of lives are ruined. I think a lot of people have the right to be pissed-off in this situation but not for the reason of racism. You stated perfectly what I think a lot of people are thinking and are afraid to say...thanks for the awesome comment! :)N

thanks for reading ba...:)N

DB said...

This is a screwed situation. The police will end up being "at fault" and have to change department policies regarding undercover police officers. I am sure these undercover operations do more good than harm in a city were crime is sophisticated and out of control. The real victims will be the citizens of New York when the police are forced to give up a valuable tool in crime fighting simply because of an accident. I doubt the police had an agenda. I can totally see how this one went down and it is sad that Sean was in the middle of it.

Sharpton is making this a race issue where it obviously is not. I doubt he is there for any other reason.

Nikki said...

DB, I think Al should be getting one of those awards on your page for...what is it again something baggery? :)N

DB said...

DB, I think Al should be getting one of those awards on your page for...what is it again something baggery?

Nikki, I'm picking up what you are putting down. I decided to post a douchebag of the week award for Al Sharpton AND Sean Bell. IMHO, these two are (were) douchebags to the fullest meaning of the term. Well, the meaning I give it, of course.

ba and the boys said...

al sharpton has spoken. this is awesome.

Nikki said...

DB...I will check it out! :)N al wants to shut the city down...seriously go away dude. Thanks for the link! :)N

namaste said...

db, i don't think you mean to give sean bell a douche bag award.

DB said...

Hi Nam,

I am pretty sure I meant to give Bell the award. I'll sum up here what I wrote in my blog...

* Bell had been arrested three times, twice for drug dealing and once for a firearms possession.

* The New York Daily News reported that, according to unnamed law enforcement sources, Bell sold crack cocaine twice to a confidential police informant in August of 2006

* Bell jumped into a car legally drunk and hit the parked unmarked police van prior to the shooting.

Bell has a history of drug dealing and gun possession. I am sorry to trample the man's grave, but I can only imagine how many lives he wrecked with his carelessness for life. He led a life of lawlessness and disrespect. While it is sad he was the "victim" this time, he in no way has led a life worth pitying him for. I would prefer him off the streets than allowing him to ruin the life of a truly innocent child.

namaste said...

db, being arrested is not the same thing as being convicted. all kinds of of young men get caught in scrapes with the law, some of them more than once. it takes some boys/young men time to grow up before they start making better choices. it's called dumb youthfulness.

"an unnamed law enforcement source" disparaging someone, does not make it true. truth is more likely to be found among identified persons rather than anonymous ones.

i'm not excusing sean's choices or his lifestyle. when i learned of this story, my first thought was, what the heck was he doing in a sleezy place like that just hours before his wedding. he was a knucklehead who still had a lot of growing up to do. but i would not label him a criminal that needed to be gotten off the streets. nor would i group him with the likes of a man like al sharpton.

DB said...

being arrested is not the same thing as being convicted

Fair enough. Ok, perhaps, for some reason, this kid is always in the wrong place at the wrong time. But his friend Guzman who was in the car also spent time in prison for armed robbery. This whole group has had numerous run-ins with the law.

I am just saying that given the situation and choice between the cops life and theirs, I will side with the cops. I justify my choice by this kid's background. These guys forced the cops to make a move and even if they had clean records, I still side with the cops.

I wonder how many people would be in an uproar if one of the cops died and these guys got away?

namaste said...

db, i am sooo not in an uproar. as i said before, the friends of sean bell were THUGS. i am guessing you are a young adult with no children. i am a mother and i know what it is to do the best you can as a parent and still have kids who can act like idiots or go thru the idiot stage. both of sean's friends were morons, probably raised by morons. sean was an impressionable kid trying to fit in. i LOVE your passionate observations. you have more cahoonas than all the lurkers reading and not knowing what to say. hats off to you, friend!

DB said...

Lol, thanks for the compliment. Nikki's blog is fun to debate on as a majority of her commenter's are intelligent enough to have a well thought out opinion. Great chat, I look forward to our next debate!