NYPD shooting angers protesters
Nov. 27, 2006 12:00 AM
NEW YORK - An angry crowd demanded Sunday to know why police officers killed an unarmed man on the day of his wedding, firing dozens of shots that also wounded two of the man's friends. Some called for the ouster of the city's police commissioner.
At a vigil and rally the day after 23-year-old Sean Bell was supposed to have married the mother of his two young children, a crowd led by the Rev. Al Sharpton shouted "No justice, no peace."
At one point, the crowd of a few hundred counted to 50, the number of rounds fired.
"We cannot allow this to continue to happen," Sharpton said at the gathering outside Mary Immaculate Hospital, where one of the wounded men was in critical condition.
Some in the crowd called for the ouster of Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, yelling "Kelly must go."
A police officers' group 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care said it was issuing a vote of no confidence in Kelly over the shooting.
Paul Browne, chief spokesman for the NYPD, said Sunday: "We are continuing to look for additional witnesses to shed light on the incident and assisting the district attorney's office with its investigation."
The five officers were placed on paid administrative leave, Browne said.
Community leaders plan a rally Dec. 6 at police headquarters.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his aides were in contact with Bell's family and community leaders throughout the weekend. Bloomberg and Kelly also planned to meet today with community leaders.
The shootings occurred at about 4 a.m. Saturday outside the Kalua Cabaret, a strip club where Bell's bachelor party was held. The survivors were Joseph Guzman, 31, who was shot at least 11 times, and Trent Benefield, 23, who was hit three times. Guzman was in critical condition Sunday and Benefield was stable.
At a news conference Saturday, Kelly said the department was still piecing together what happened and that it was too early to say whether the shooting was justified.
The car, driven by Bell, was struck by 21 of the police bullets after the vehicle rammed an undercover officer and hit an unmarked NYPD minivan.
Police thought one of the men in the car might have had a gun, but investigators found no weapons. It was unclear what prompted police to open fire, Kelly said.
It was also not clear whether the shooters had identified themselves as police, Kelly said.
Kelly said the confrontation stemmed from an undercover operation inside the strip club in the Jamaica section of Queens. Seven officers in plainclothes were investigating the Kalua Cabaret; five of them were involved in the shooting.
According to Kelly, the groom was involved in a verbal dispute outside the club and one of his friends made a reference to a gun.
An undercover officer who followed the group on foot was apparently the first to open fire, Kelly said. That officer had served on the force for five years. One 12-year veteran fired his weapon 31 times, emptying two full magazines, Kelly said. http://www.gothamgazette.com/blogs/wonkster/2006/11/26/the-death-of-sean-bell/
The Death of Sean Bell
November 26th, 2006
Despite the holiday weekend, many bloggers were quick to express outrage over the shooting death of Sean Bell, who was killed in a barrage of police gunfire as he left his bachelor party the day before his wedding.
“Was it necessary for the NYPD to gun down a groom-to-be in a hail of 50 bullets? No weapon was found on the deceased,”" wrote As I See It So Should You.
Kiandra recalls the case of Amadou Diallo, the unarmed African immigrant killed by police in 1999 in what the officers said was a case of mistaken identity and notes that, in both shootings, police fired repeatedly. “Although the story is unclear of how the shooting started or what sparked the shooting, what is clear is that Sean Bell along with his companions, coming from the bachelor party, was reportedly shot at 50 something times. Both Sean and Diallo were 23 years old,” she wrote. “NYPD is becoming known for this.”
Writing “my first instinct thinks the shooting was motivated by racism” (Bell was black and his friends were all black or Hispanic), Yikes reels off several questions about the incident: “Why did the police follow the men out of the club? What was said that would have led to the verbal dispute? And why, when there was no evidence of weapons, were 50 rounds fired at the car? And, when it was known there were no weapons, why were the two wounded survivors of the shooting handcuffed to their hospital beds?”
Compiled by Gail Robinson http://nyc.indymedia.org/en/2006/11/79946.shtml
NYPD Guns Down Queens Man on Wedding Day
Yesterday, Sean Bell and his two buddies were mowed down by a barrage of bullets in Queens.
Yesterday, Sean Bell and his two buddies were mowed down by a barrage of bullets in Queens. Sean Bell died at the hands of the NYPD (self-acclaimed finest), just hours before he was to be wed to the mother of his children. With the scenario of a combat zone in a country in the midst of civil strife, about 50 bullets projected into the car Sean Bell was in.
Keywords: Analysis, Local, Human Rights, Law,
Yesterday, Sean Bell and his two buddies were mowed down by a barrage of bullets in Queens. Sean Bell died at the hands of the NYPD (self-acclaimed finest) just hours before he was to be wed to the mother of his children. With the scenario of a combat zone in a country in the midst of civil strife, about 50 bullets projected into the car Sean Bell was in. Unlike a combat zone, and more like a masarcre in Sudan or Colombia, the bullets flew from only one direction, and that was the direction of authorities or mafioso paramilitaries. Yet like one of these disfunctional regions, this incident was not an anomaly, because other NY residents have also been blown away by a uni-directional stream of lethal metal-projectiles. Also like many of these unfortunate civil cesspools, the details of the incident meander at the upper-echelons of authority, where information is repackaged in order to diminish recriminating adverse impact. In line with other places where such outrageous abuses take place, enforcement authorities are actors in a social setting charachterized by intolerence, discrimination and ignorance. To many who have had contact with members of the NYPD, it is an explict fact that a great number of them harbour and express crude rascist and chauvinistic views, despite living and working in the richist multi-cultural environments of the World. Abusive language and deragotory remarks is an NYPD standard. To many of us who have had supposed law-enforcement dealings with the NYPD, they express a marked propensity to abuse power. The threat and exercise of physical abuse by many cops is an all too-common modus operandi. Perhaps these trapping are perfected in minority neighorhoods.
While almost no one can rob them of the outstanding praise many of their members earned for their heroism during 9/11, the institution as a whole has been steadily spiriling down and out-of-control, reminiscent of a “Serpico-Bladerunner” movie. Unfortunatly this tragic situation cannot be remedied because controling and greedy politicians cannot tarnish the very icon they have opportunistically elevated and manipulated. While law-enforcement was supposed to evolve in the U.S. as a tool of social-mitigation, in NY, the police is increasingly becoming a vehicle for focused social manipulation unleashed by a corporate-foci. This accusation of selective abuse and manipulation can be overwhelmingly detailed by events that unfolded during the RNC, where dissention was quarantied to back of the “Garden”, while those of us who refused to see our rights and speech dimmed where quashed by the NYPD, who were pumped by an 80 million dollar infusion. The NYPD used their media-machine to vilify important members of NY’s non-violent activist community and thus prepare the grounds for their orchestrated and deliberate abuses. Fabrication and perjury by the NYPD were systemitized during the RNC on a mass-scale. Though in normal criminal procedings, fabrication and the extensión of charges is normal in order to insure a procedure and outcome. Many of those take-in during the RNC expressed an tacit understanding of what many minorities go through in prison system overwhelmingly populated by Afro and Hispanic dissent, while benifiting from the selectiveness of the system. During the Puerto Rican day parade, a large group of young hispanics where arbitrarily in-mass arrested by the NYPD during their own parade, yet no civil-liberties champion intervened in their defense or the defense of civil liberties, thus evidencing an apartheid within a value system where the NYPD is an actor. One can pose the question whether if a disfunctional institution such as the NYPD been halted from exercising its rascist, intolerant, unlegal and unprofessional practices, would this have curtailed its abusive role during the RNC and permitted the anti-war movement from getting its message out, and helped save so many countless lives, while exposing the truth.
While the death of Sean Bell once again demonstrates the abusive and disfuncional nature of the NYPD, it also exposes a divide in which we live in. This is the true praxis of daily-living in NYC or the US, to say the least. Yet, at the core of this divide is the NYPD and the justice system. In a system where opportunities and castigation is stacked against “minorities”. What is most disturbing is that a tarnished and awry institution like the NYPD is permited such dominant role in interpreting free-speech. Much more dangerous and undemocratic than allowing the NYPD to review the exercise of free speech, is to allow them to interpret how it is exercised. The NYPD has continuously demonstrated a marked difference in their tolerance and interpretation of the exercise of free speech. Political speech suffers an acute interpretation, while that with comercial orientation recieves scant attention, when in a truely democratic society, political and esocteric speech would be ideally elevated to sanctity. Would there have been a revolution and a Bill of Rights if pamphleteers and town-hall assemblers had been required to apply for a permit to the English authorities. No doubt that spontinaity and collective effectiveness would definitly been adveresly affected. It clear that permitting police authorities to be conduits for the exercise of free speech is a sure way to insure social stasis. It is also a sure way to insure that discrimination and abuse to indure in a society.
The NYPD is not only permeated by unjust values, but also often commendered by priviledged and discriminating groups. However the NYPD can only be stripped of its abusive trappings and practices by acclaiming the universality of rights. The barrage of bullets that mowed Sean Bell down is an accent of what minority neighorhoods indure at the hands of the “finest”. It is miracle that nobody else was killed by such an execution of power. The reaction by the Mayor and the power-elite would have been different if this shoot-up had happened on the west or east side of central park, outside of a swanky bar, and a white yuppie brutrally eliminated. This difference in attitudes is why the NYPD excels at brutality amongst supposed democratic and advanced societies. http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-na-groom27nov27
Crowd unites in grief, outrage over shooting
Tensions reverberate in New York City after police officers kill an unarmed man leaving his bachelor party.
By Ellen Barry, Times Staff Writer
November 27, 2006
NEW YORK — Outside Mary Immaculate Hospital in Queens on Sunday, the bride rested her tear-streaked face on the Rev. Al Sharpton's shoulder. Hundreds of angry mourners shouted out the numbers from 1 to 50, to indicate the number of gunshots fired by police Saturday when Sean Bell was killed as he left his bachelor party.
"Kelly must go," shouted some in the crowd, referring to New York Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly. New York City Councilman Charles Barron promised "an explosion in the community," and said "every one of those police officers should be in jail for the rest of their lives, and after they die, they should go straight to hell."
The scene was reminiscent of racially tinged flare-ups that have roiled the city over the years. But those tensions had subsided in Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's New York, a gentrifying city where crime had fallen off the front page.
Councilman James Sanders Jr. called it "the Bloomberg effect" — the period of calm that entered as Rudolph W. Giuliani stepped down as mayor — but said Bell's shooting might mark a turning point.
"That honeymoon only lasts so long, and I say that as a supporter of Bloomberg," said Sanders, who represents a district in Southeast Queens. "It's just striking everyone, this idea of being killed on your wedding day. It's reminding people of their own family. Under these conditions, people are going to pay attention."
Bell, 23, who was to be married Saturday night, was shot to death about 4 a.m. Saturday as he left a nightclub with two friends after his bachelor party. The shots were fired by five undercover officers documenting narcotics and prostitution at the club, police said.
Bell was shot in the arm and neck, and was pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital. Joseph Guzman, 31, was in critical condition with 11 gunshot wounds, and Trent Benefield, 23, shot three times, was in stable condition; both were at Mary Immaculate Hospital.
Kelly told reporters Saturday that the undercover officers believed that a patron was armed and that a gunfight was imminent. Eight men including Bell, Guzman and Benefield left the club and began to argue with another man, the police commissioner said. According to Kelly, an undercover officer heard Bell make a threat and heard Guzman say, "Yo, go get my gun." Bell then got into a Nissan Altima with Guzman, Benefield and a fourth man, police said.
Kelly continued: As Bell began to drive away, an undercover officer approached Bell's car, and a police minivan rounded the corner. Bell's car struck the officer and then the minivan. At that point, Kelly said, the officers shot at the car. No guns were found in the car.
The five undercover officers involved in the shooting were put on administrative leave Sunday and stripped of their firearms pending an investigation by the Queens district attorney, said police spokesman Paul Browne.
About 400 people gathered across from Mary Immaculate on Sunday to hear speeches from community leaders. In the crowd was Bell's fiancee, Nicole Paultre. Tears trickled down the face of their 3-year-old daughter, Jordyn. At one point, a woman began wailing, interrupting the speeches. She was led away from the crowd.
"We are here because this could have been us," Sharpton said. "We've got to understand that all of us were in that car."
Councilman Barron called for Kelly to resign. Sanders was more circumspect but said that anger over police tactics had been building up in his district. Bloomberg, he said, will be under "enormous pressure" to support the police.
"Err on the side of caution, Mr. Mayor," Sanders said. "You saw just about every elected official in Southeast Queens here saying that this case stinks."
All afternoon, mourners referred to incidents that had racked relations between minority communities and New York's power structure. One was the 1999 killing of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed African immigrant who was shot 19 times by police in the entryway to his apartment building. Diallo had been reaching for his wallet, but the officers said they believed he was drawing a gun. The four officers charged in the case were acquitted.
Sharpton recalled a 1986 beating in which white men attacked a group of black men whose car had broken down in Howard Beach, Queens. One of the black men ran onto a road, where he was fatally hit by a car. In that case, Sharpton advised the surviving victims not to cooperate with investigators and demanded a special prosecutor. Eventually, he got his wish.
For many in the crowd, the details of Saturday's shooting were too fresh to put into historical context. Czanell McCray, who knew Bell's family from church, was pained to think of what the 23-year-old was to do Saturday: marry the mother of his two daughters in front of 200 guests.
"It's like all the good guys, all the guys that are motivating themselves, improving themselves, and look what happens," McCray said.
Sharon Fulton stood opposite the hospital's emergency room, still stunned. Her sister, a friend of the groom's mother, had baked three cakes for the wedding — white cakes with delicate black flowers, to go with the event's black-and-white theme. Those cakes were her connection to Bell and his fiancee, until Saturday: "When I called my sister and asked what time she was going to deliver the cakes, she said, 'He's dead.' " email@example.com http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/27/nyregion/27groom.html
Pastor Remembers a Confident Family Man Looking Forward to His Marriage
By EMILY VASQUEZ and DARYL KHAN
Published: November 27, 2006
It haunted him. Bishop Lester Williams had known Sean Bell for 12 years, and yesterday, he could not forget the sense of urgency Mr. Bell felt recently to finally marry his high school sweetheart, Nicole Paultre.
Sean Bell, seen here with his fiancée, Nicole Paultre, and one of their daughters. Mr. Bell was killed early Saturday after his bachelor party.
Almost two weeks ago, at the couple’s last meeting with Bishop Williams before their wedding, he said he asked Mr. Bell one last time if he was sure that marriage was for him, and the answer came easily.
“He said, ‘Yes, definitely,’ ” Bishop Williams recalled. “He was so sure, he wanted to sign the marriage license right then. He was in a hurry to get this thing done.”
Yesterday afternoon, Bishop Williams, pastor of the Community Church of Christ in Jamaica, Queens, stood outside the sanctuary, where instead of marrying the couple on Saturday, he led a service to mourn Mr. Bell’s death. He died early Saturday after being shot by the police following his bachelor party.
“I should have just married them in my office, then had the ceremony later,” Bishop Williams said. “I wanted to make sure he was doing this for the right reasons. Now, I feel terrible.”
“I can’t get his face out of my mind,” he added, remembering how Mr. Bell, who was 23, stopped in the doorway as he left their final meeting. “ ‘I’ll be back,’ he said.”
As details of the shooting came to light Saturday afternoon, Bishop Williams said Ms. Paultre, 22, called him and asked if he could somehow still legally marry them. “We can’t do it,” the bishop said he told her. “I’m sorry.”
Mr. Bell’s funeral will be at the church at 10 a.m. on Friday.
At a rally yesterday in front of Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica, where two of Mr. Bell’s friends were recovering from wounds suffered in the shooting, community and religious leaders remembered him as a star pitcher for John Adams High School in Ozone Park and a devoted father.
Summing up the season of his senior year, The Daily News reported in June 2001 that Mr. Bell had “dominated” as a pitcher, finishing his final season with an 11-0 record, a 2.30 E.R.A. and 97 strikeouts in 62.2 innings. Newsday said in July 2001 that he had led John Adams to “a sixth straight division title.”
But his dreams of pursuing a baseball career were put off when he learned that his girlfriend, Ms. Paultre, was pregnant, according to one of his cousins, Kinglarry Crawford. Three years ago, she gave birth to their daughter Jada. Five months ago, their second daughter, Jordyn, was born.
“He was a great baseball player. He would have signed professionally,” Bishop Williams said. “He gave up all that baseball and everything to be with his high school sweetheart.”
Mr. Bell worked odd jobs while the couple lived with Ms. Paultre’s parents in an apartment on Beach 27th Street in Far Rockaway, Mr. Crawford said. Still, Mr. Bell kept in shape, running and lifting weights, Mr. Crawford added, hoping to return to the sport one day.
As time passed, new dreams, beyond baseball, emerged. Mr. Bell hoped to move next year from New York and settle with his bride, possibly, in Atlanta, Mr. Crawford said.
He didn’t want any more of “New York life,” Mr. Crawford said. “New York is violent.”
Indeed, Mr. Bell seemed to want to leave behind the community, where for him, crime was difficult to avoid. According to a city Department of Correction official, Mr. Bell had been arrested four times, once in 2003, once in 2004, and twice this year, most recently on Nov. 7.
The charges were not available yesterday, but after all four arrests he was released on his own recognizance, suggesting that the arrests involved relatively minor offenses.
As the couple began the next phase of their lives, Ms. Paultre’s parents were planning to help them buy a house if they went through with the move, Mr. Crawford added. Activists, politicians and other speakers at a rally yesterday pledged that they, too, would help support Ms. Paultre and the couple’s daughters.
“He was doing the right thing,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who spoke at the rally. “He was going to marry the mother of his children.”
Michael Wilson contributed reporting. http://www.silive.com/newsflash/metro/index.ssf?/base/news-22/1164630542245490.xml&storylist=simetro
Man, shot by NY police on wedding day, made sacrifices for family
11/27/2006, 7:21 a.m. ET
The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Sean Bell was just 23 when he died, but those close to him said he had already made some mature sacrifices.
Bell had a promising run as star pitcher for his Queens high school, and he hoped to pursue a baseball career. But when his high school girlfriend, Nicole Paultre, discovered she was pregnant, he put aside those dreams, said Kinglarry Crawford, a cousin.
"He would have signed professionally," said Bishop Lester Williams, who had planned to marry the couple Saturday. "He gave up all that baseball and everything to be with his high school sweetheart."
Hours before the wedding, the unarmed man was felled by a hail of police gunfire as he left his bachelor party, a shooting that has prompted outraged protests from family members and members of the community. Williams instead found himself leading a service to mourn Bell's death.
Williams, pastor of the Community Church of Christ in Queens, recalled the young man's eagerness to marry.
"He was so sure, he wanted to sign the marriage license right then," Williams said of his final meeting with the couple before the ceremony. "He was in a hurry to get this thing done."
In retrospect, the pastor said, he regrets having waited.
Distraught in the hours after her fiance's death, Paultre also was consumed by regret, Williams said, calling the minister to ask if he could somehow still legally marry them.
"We can't do it," the pastor said he told her. "I'm sorry."
After Paultre became pregnant, Bell moved in with her and her parents, working odd jobs and staying in shape, harboring hopes of eventually returning to playing ball, Crawford said. The couple began planning a wedding, and a move to Atlanta, where her parents were planning to help them buy a house.
Instead, the family was left to try to explain to the couple's 3-year-old daughter, Jada, what had happened to her father. The couple's second daughter, 5-month-old Jordyn, is too young to understand.
Williams said that Bell recently comforted the girl about the death of a puppy, telling her, "When you see the sun, that's the puppy."
"We had to tell her, 'Daddy is taking care of the puppy. Look up and say hi to Daddy,'" Williams said.