Officers indicted in Sean Bell case

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Hat tip NY Times

NEW YORK (AP) — A grand jury Friday indicted at least three of the five police officers whose 50-shot barrage killed an unarmed man on his wedding day, lawyers for the officers said. It was not immediately disclosed if the other officers were also charged.

Attorneys for officers Marc Cooper, Gerscard Isnora and Michael Oliver said their clients had been indicted, but they did not know what offenses the officers had been charged with.

The three officers fired the most shots — Cooper, 4, Isnora, 11, and Oliver, 31 — in the Nov. 25 confrontation that killed 23-year-old Sean Bell and wounded two of his friends.

Isnora, 28, was ”very upset,” attorney Philip Karasyk said. ”But he is confident that once he has his day in court he will be vindicated.”

The shooting stirred outrage around New York City and led to accusations of racism against police. Bell was black, as are two of his friends who were wounded in the shooting. Two of the officers are white, and three are black.

The grand jury’s decision came after three days of deliberations.

The Rev. Al Sharpton said the charges marked an important first step in the fight for justice in the case.

”Since Nov. 25th, we have battled together. Today is a major step in that battle, whether it will be a step forward, time will tell. But one thing that we can say, if you stay together and you fight, you can do what is necessary to protect children,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said at a news conference.

Anticipation has been running high around New York City about the grand jury’s decision. Extra police officers were put on standby, and the mayor met with black leaders in the Queens neighborhood where shooting occurred in hopes of defusing any tensions that might arise from the decision.

”Whatever the grand jury says … I think you will see the people of this city behaving in an exemplary manner,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday. ”They can be disappointed, they can express themselves — that’s freedom of speech, I don’t have a problem with that. But nobody is going to go out and make our streets unsafe.”

Congressman Meeks incredulous about surprise witness testimony in Sean Bell case

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Congressman Greg Meeks released the following statement regarding the Grand Juryn  proceedings in the Sean Bell Case in New York City:

“I’ve heard of 11th hour conversion but this is ridiculous. The public is being asked to believe that a witness, previously interviewed by the police has just come forward to say that he actually did see a mysterious Black male fire one or two shots at the police officers who were firing 50 shots at Sean Bell, Jose Guzman, and Trent Benefield. All three were unarmed. Bell was killed. Guzman and Benefield were seriously wounded.”

“This witness claims that he didn’t reveal what he saw because he was “scared.” But, now — even as the grand jury in the case is in the midst of deliberations and expected to render a decision in the next day or two — this witness’ “Christian conscience” would not let him be silent any longer.”

“Unbelievable and incredible, to put it mildly! Especially when the NYPD canvassed the block where the shooting occurred, the immediate neighborhood, and in fact in other neighborhoods, looking for a so-called “fourth man” who allegedly escaped while the hail of bullets were being fired (a preposterous story if there ever was one), but found nothing.”

“It appears to me that there may be unnamed parties who are eager to throw a monkey wrench into the gears of justice. This last minute episode has all the earmarks of a provocation and a maneuver to delay, if not disrupt, the grand jury process. I trust that neither District Attorney Brown nor the grand jury will allow a detour to be placed in the path of their patient, detailed, diligent work. I urge the community and people of goodwill throughout the city to remain vigilant, disciplined, and hopeful, at all times respecting justice and keeping their “eyes on the prize.”

NYPD Detective who fired 35 shots testifies in Sean Bell case

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Published: March 10, 2007  NY TIMES 

A grand jury in Queens weighing evidence in the fatal police shooting of Sean Bell heard yesterday from the last of the five police officers involved in the case, a detective who fired 31 of the 50 shots at Mr. Bell’s car.

The actions of the detective, Michael Oliver, who emptied his 9-millimeter Sig Sauer pistol, reloaded and emptied it again during the barrage of police gunfire, have been among the focal points of the investigation into the shooting, which took place outside the Club Kalua strip club in Queens on Nov. 25, hours before Mr. Bell was to be married.

In the moments after the shooting, Detective Oliver, 35, told a supervisor at the scene that he was unsure whether he had even fired at all, according to the Police Department’s preliminary report. The detective’s lawyer, James J. Culleton, said yesterday that it could take as little as 10 seconds for an officer using a gun like his client’s to fire 31 shots.

Detective Oliver testified for about two and a half hours before the grand jurors yesterday, Mr. Culleton said. The detective did not respond to reporters’ questions as he left at 2 p.m.

Earlier, as Detective Oliver was escorted to the office building where the grand jury is seated, at 80-02 Kew Gardens Road, the leader of the detectives’ union, Michael J. Palladino, paused at a bank of microphones and defended the detective, who since he joined the department in February 1994 has more than 600 arrests to his credit, including multiple arrests in crimes involving guns.

“This detective has been characterized as a cowboy, and that’s not true and it is unfair,” said Mr. Palladino, who said that Detective Oliver, like his colleagues, was testifying without immunity. “This detective is an impeccable officer, has an unblemished record.”

Detective Oliver’s appearance yesterday signals that the grand jury’s work is winding down. It has heard this week from each of the five officers, in the order of the number of rounds they fired: Detective Paul Headley, 35, who fired one shot, and Officer Michael Carey, 26, who fired three, testified on Monday; Detective Marc Cooper, 39, who fired four shots, and Detective Gescard F. Isnora, 28, who fired 11, testified on Wednesday.

Mr. Culleton, Detective Oliver’s lawyer, said yesterday that the grand jurors had agreed with the officers’ request that they listen to an expert witness in firearms, tactics and training. That witness testified for two and a half hours yesterday afternoon, Mr. Palladino and lawyers said. A decision on whether any of the five officers who opened fire on Mr. Bell’s car will face criminal charges could come as early as next week, according to lawyers involved in the case.

Mr. Bell, 23, and his friends were celebrating at his bachelor party when the shooting occurred. Two of his friends, Trent Benefield, 23, and Joseph Guzman, 31, who were wounded, testified before the grand jury last week.

Sanford A. Rubenstein, one of the lawyers representing Mr. Benefield and Mr. Guzman, as well as Mr. Bell’s fiancée, Nicole Paultre Bell, 22, said his clients were awaiting a conclusion. He said that deliberations, once commenced, “might take some time,” since five police officers were involved.

“All the victims have testified before the grand jury, and they want justice,” Mr. Rubenstein said. “What justice means is that if a police officer committed a criminal act, that the police officer be held accountable, criminally.”

Lawyers for the officers have said that the shooting tore at their clients emotionally. Before Nov. 25, none of them had ever fired a round in the line of duty. Mr. Palladino, president of the Detectives’ Endowment Association, has repeatedly said that the officers’ actions were not criminal.

“We ain’t mean to kill nobody, and it is just a dead Nigga, so can we go home now like nothin’ happened, Y’all?  No harm, no foul, right?”

Nothin’ criminal?  Are you freakin’  kidding me? Unarmed Negro, Shot Dead. Unarmed Negroes, shot?  Unarmed Negroes charged with no crimes, but still shot up-Hmm.  Yeah, why don’t y’all just go home. Chill.  Relax.  Take two racial amnesia pills and call us in the morning. 

Thugs in NYPD Blue testify in Sean Bell case

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Sean Bell with fiancee and child. Bell was killed on saturday, November 25, 2006, by New York police just hours before the wedding was to take place. The plainclothes cops, who did not identify themselves, fired 50 shots at the vehicle where Bell was murd

NEW YORK (AP) — Two of five police officers involved in the 50-shot fusillade that killed an unarmed man on his wedding day appeared before a grand jury Monday.

The shooting that killed Sean Bell and wounded two of his friends prompted community outrage and questions about police tactics. The survivors claim the officers never identified themselves as police before they opened fire.

The first officer to appear, Detective Paul Headley, left the closed-door session feeling ”relieved that he had the opportunity to tell his version of events,” said his attorney, John Arlia. ”Clearly, it has been a toll on him and his family.”

Headley, 35, did not speak to reporters after testifying for more than two hours.

Officer Michael Carey, 26, arrived a short time later accompanied by Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

”He will go in there and tell his story as a police officer and put some facts to some of the fiction that ran on the streets,” Lynch said.

The grand jury called the officers in the order of the number of shots they fired. Headley fired one round and Carey fired three. They were to be followed by Marc Cooper, who shot four times, Gescard Isnora, who fired 11 shots, and Michael Oliver, who shot 31 times.

Last week, the grand jury heard from the two survivors, Joseph Guzman, 31, and Trent Benefield, 23.

Bell, 23, was killed before dawn after his bachelor party at a topless bar where police had launched an undercover operation in response to complaints about prostitution. He was to be married later that day.

Community Anger Intensifying in Sean Bell Case

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Several marches have been held in the past six weeks protesting the senselessness of the Police Shooting and killing of Sean Bell and the wounding of his three friends outside a Queens strip club in the small hours of the morning of Sean Bell’s wedding day.   Celebration turned to mourning as a family came to grips with another unjustified NYPD homicide.   The NYPD thugs in blue had struck again.  The intensity of the community reaction has been swift and their anger at the NYPD for their harassment campaign against witnesses to the incident is running over.  

Queens area politicians are unified in seeking an orderly but thorough investigation that hopefully leads to a felony prosecution for the officers involved. The prosecution track record in these incidents is appallingly unacceptable.  The Mayor has held a rolling series of meetings with community leaders and activists to signal his displeasure with this incident but has stopped short of calling for Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s resignation.  A Queens Grand Jury convened Tuesday impaneled to investigate charges against NYPD Officers in this case.  This development comes on the heels of a protest vigil launched by Mrs. Valerie Bell and Sean’s fiance’ Nicole Paultre Bell in front of the 1o3rd precinct station house in Jamaica. 

Rudolph the Red Nosed Racist, a christmas carol

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Rudolph the red nosed racist
told a bright and shining lie (about NYPD Police Brutality),
and if you ever heard it,
you would even say it glowed (like a lightbulb).

All of the other right-wingers,
used to laugh and call him names (like liberal).
They never let poor Rudolph,
join in any right-wing games.

Then one sunny September Day,
Dubya came to say:
“Rudolph with your self-serving lies so bright,
won’t you help me scare America and scapegoat Muslims tonight?

Then all the right-wingers loved him,
as they shouted out with glee:
“Rudoph the Red Nosed Racist,
you’ll be the next President in history!”

Stanley Crouch changes his tune on thugs in NYPD blue

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Stanley Crouch is an ugly bastard with a face that only his Momma could love. He also has an amazing way with words and is a poignant and compelling writer, essayist, and jazz critic.  His current gig as a columnist for the New York Daily News, a neo-conservative cog in Mortimer Zuckerman’s news empire, is one in which he is paid big bucks to playa hate on black activists concerned about police misconduct and lead the cheering squad for the thugs in NYPD blue.

He does not have to be paid.  You see, Crouch has a thing for the thugs in NYPD blue that damn near borders on unrequited love.

He has written a series of columns over the last six years cheerleading for the NYPD that has never been critical until now.  On Thursday, November 30, 2006, he wrote a column, “KILLING MAKES POLICE THE PERPS NOW” acknowledging for the first time that I can find, the truth about the thugs in NYPD blue. In it he opined,  “We always have to look closely at any event involving homicide by the cops in the black community.  The reasons are simple. First, there is a long history of racist violence against black people that has just as often been committed by white police as by freelance rednecks….those defending almost any police action will say that it was a mistake. Yeah, right. Sure thing. Bull dung.”

Glad to see Crouch finally got the damn Memo. Too bad brotha Crouch couldn’t have seen the wisdom of that perspective six years ago when he wrote a column on March 1, 2000 about the death of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed Guinean immigrant gunned down in a hail of 41 shots, ” no matter how much howling and whining there might be, no matter all of the sanctimonious denouncements, I do not see police officers as bigoted white demons who arrive in so-called minority communities thinking that they are the anointed zoo keepers who must sometimes subdue the animals, and sometimes use deadly force against them.”

Really? Brotha Crouch was too busy playing a black conservative flunky to Mayor Giuliani and Police Commish Howard Safir, serving on a police-community whitewash taskforce and the police academy board of visitors.  Playing his assigned role of NYPD apologist, he wrote a March 8, 2002 column entitled “LOUIMA CASE IS ABOUT A COPS RAGE, NOT RACISM.”  In it he wrote, ” I have had some encounters with racist cops in my time, and I’m not convinced that the Louima case had any racial elements-at least not of the most obvious kind. Louima was never called a racist name.”

Abner Louima, you’ll recall was the Haitian brotha sodomized by the thugs in NYPD blue with a broken broomstick, and was so grieviously  injured that he almost died. His intestines were so damaged that he will wear a colostomy bag for the rest of his life. After raping him with a broken broomstick, they were supposed to call him a Nigger too?  Marvin Kornberg, a lawyer specializing in defending dirty cops, alleged that Louima’s injuries were the result of gay sex, not the sadistic beat down performed by the NYPD. Brotha Crouch heard all of this, the convictions of three officers involved in holding Louima down were overturned on appeal, and still he pulls the above funky pearl of wisdom from his ass and offers it up to the public. Amazing.

When not failing to castigate the NYPD for the murder and assault against Amadou Diallo and Abner Louima, Crouch used his column to lobby for NYPD pay raises and champion racial profiling.  On June 17, 2002 and August 15, 2002, Crouch wrote columns cheerleading for pay raises in the wake of 9/11.  Understandable, however, these men and women took an oath to protect and serve the public and knew that they could be called upon at any time to make the ultimate sacrifice.  Nobody told Amadou Diallo or Sean Bell that they could die because they were black men and that could be blown away without provocation because they are  mistakenly presumed armed and dangerous.

Crouch’s advocacy for racial profiling disturbs me profoundly.  His June 19, 2003 column, “IT’S NOT PROFILING, IT’S GOOD POLICING” attempts to provide the rationale that if the police didn’t use racial profiling, police would be accused of neglect for “allow[ing] so much crime to take place in Negro communities.”  He also, in a fit of delusional mania, attempts to insert his own view of the police and attribute it to everyone:  “most New Yorkers, no matter their color, their sex, their religion, their profession, their neighborhood, feel much safer now.  Even professional haters of police have to admit that.”  Not content in rubber-stamping racial profiling of black folk, he put in his two cents for racially profiling Muslim men and halting legitimate immigration of Muslims into this country unconscionably buying into the racial fears of others.

Until last Thursday, Stanley Crouch was a professional publicist and part-time plaything for the thugs in NYPD blue.  His betrayal allowed the cacophany of voices calling for reform to be stifled and lent credibility to those whose agenda was inimical to folks seeking justice for the unjustifed and disproportionate assault and homicide of people of color by the NYPD.  Now that another brotha’s senseless death has cured him of his right-wing racial amnesia and gotten him on the good foot, I hope he stays on it.  Sadly, it will be of no consolation to the friends and family of those killed by the NYPD’s racist reign of terrorr.

Juan Gonzalez: “NYPD breaking down doors in Black Community”

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Sean Bell, his fiancee Nicole Paultre, and their daughter

 From Amy Goodman’s radio program Democracy Now:

NY DAILY NEWS Reporter Juan Gonzalez details the harassment of NYPD shooting victim Sean Bell’s friends.

Yes, Amy. Well, I was writing about this dragnet now that the police are conducting in Queens. And actually it was Wednesday morning that they arrested four people in an early 6:00 a.m. raid. They broke down a door of an apartment in Queens and put guns in people’s faces, including a woman, LaToya Smith, who was with her seven-month-old son in bed. And they rousted her out of bed with guns in her face, and they herded all the family members. Eventually, they claim that this was a drug location and that they found a loaded gun in the apartment and took LaToya Smith, two of her brothers and another young man to jail, although they eventually released her. But interestingly, they didn’t conduct the raid for guns or drugs. The young people all said that the main questions had to do with the shooting in Queens, because these are all friends of the victims. And they kept asking them information about who they knew who had been at a bachelor party, what they knew about these young men.

The next morning they came back again to the same building — this was Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. — and arrested two more young men, including one was arrested for an overdue $25 fine on a ticket from last year, and he was hauled off to jail on that. And again, he was a friend of Trent Benefield, who had been at the hospital several times during the week, one of the wounded men. And he was again asked about what was his conversations with Trent Benefield, what did he know about other people in the neighborhood.

And basically, what’s been happening now — we know of at least six people, then, who have been hauled in, and possibly more. And the police — the folks in this community are now saying that the police are now turning the victims now into suspects, as well as their friends, in an effort to find what they say is a fourth man who they believe was near the car when the shooting occurred and who may have important information that would corroborate the police account. But they have, late last night, arrested one man, Jean [Nelson], who they claim may be the person, this fourth person, mystery person, that they’re looking for. But it’s not clear yet.

But the lawyers of the men have said that there is no fourth person, that there were only three people in the car when the shooting occurred and that obviously no one in the car had a gun, because that, the police confirmed that. So it’s really been a bizarre twist now that the community that has already suffered the loss of one young man and the severe wounding of two others is now being subjected to police raids.”

Sean Bell, 23, murdered by NYPD and Clinton Adminstration negligence

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Sean Bell, his fiancee Nicole Paultre, and their daughter 

Here we are again, another brotha, Sean Bell, has bitten the dust, taken out by wild, out-of -control NYPD officers.  This could have been averted.  The circumstances surrounding this execution are of the most questionable nature, as they always are.  This is part and parcel of a pattern of misconduct that has dogged the NYPD for decades and was exacerbated by Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s relentless defense of police misconduct.  It was not until 1977 that an on-duty NYPD officer was convicted for a wrongful death. 

Apparently, there had never been a questionable killing or circumstance in which the improper use of force by members of the NYPD could legitimately be questioned until then.  If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in buying.

The list of questionable killings by the NYPD is growing.

 Antonio Rosario, 18, and Hilton Vega, 22, shot at between twenty three and twenty eight times while laying down in a prone position as mandated by police. “According to reports citing the Medical Examiner’s report, Vega was hit with eight bullets – in his back, buttocks, back of the head and front left forearm. Rosario was hit with fourteen bullets – eight in his back or buttocks, two in his side, two in his right arm, one in his hip, and one in his armpit.”

Anibal Carrasquillo, 21, unarmed, and shot in the back by NYPD on January 22, 1995.  No carges filed.

Frankie Arzuega, 15, car passenger, unarmed, shot to death by NYPD, when police claimed the car attempted to drive off while being questioned.  No charges filed.

Aswan Watson, unarmed, shot 18 times in a stolen car because police claimed he looked like he might be reaching for a weapon on June 13, 1996.

Amadou Diallo, 23, shot 19 times in a hail of 41 shots on February 4, 1999 because officers, on the basis of no evidence ,think he fits the description of a rape suspect and think he is reaching for a weapon that turns out to be a wallet.  Officers involved are acquitted of murder.

Joe McGill, 58, shot to death by NYPD, after allegedly fleeing a bank he allegedly robbed on August 9, 1999. No charges filed.

Malcolm Ferguson, 23, unarmed, shot in the head by NYPD after a scuffle with police in a building where dealing was supposedly taking place on March 1, 2000.  No charges filed.

Patrick Dorismond, 26, unarmed, shot to death by NYPD after a scuffle with police in which he was asked for crack on March 16, 2000.  In retaliation, Giuliani Administration releases his sealed juvenile criminal records to shield police and cloud the issue of his unnecessary demise.

Charmene Pickering, 27, shot to death by NYPD during a traffic stop of the driver of the vehicle on July 27, 2001. No charges filed.

Juan Mendez, 38, shot to death by NYPD during a chase on foot on January 23,2002.  No charges filed.

Cesar Mercado, 47, shot to death by NYPD after allegedly attempting to break into a parked Van.  No charges filed.

Jamal Nixon, 19,  shot to death by NYPD after allegedly firing a handgun in Brownsville, a predominitely black section of Brooklyn.  No charges filed.

Floyd Quinones, 28, shot to death by NYPD after he fires 17 shots into the sky at a birthday celebration.  Accused of aiming in the direction of police.  No charges filed.

Ousmane Zongo, 43, unarmed, shot to death by NYPD during a foot chase.  Officer tried but jury deadlocks resulting in a mistrial.

Timothy Stansbury, Jr., 19, unarmed, shot to death by NYPD on a rooftop unders suspicious circumstances that are never adequately justified.

Examined by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and Human Rights Watch, the NYPD  has been excoriated for patterns and practices that reveal clear, convincing cases of racial profiling, systemic police brutality, and unjustifiable homicide. The current Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, seems to be willing to challenge the automatic presumption of police innocence in this case.  Moreover, he has appointed a police commissioner widely reported to be sensitive to misconduct complaints of this nature.  However, advocates like City Councilman Charles Barron, automatically discount the rhetoric from those at the top.   Instead, he focuses on what charges are filed and whether or not convictions are obtained.

I feel brotha Barron on that.  The NYPD has a problem and the only solution is for a federally apointed monitor to take over administration of  the NYPD.  According to a law review article in Fordham Urban Law Journal in January of 2003 “The Failure of Local and Federal Prosecutors to Curb Police Brutality” by Asit Panwala, “As a result of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, federal authorites now have the ability to change how local police departments operate. The law empowers the Department of Justice to force police departments to implement internal review systems or to enjoin them from allowing officers to use deadly [force]. … The Justice Department may be better suited to handle police brutality because it has both the power to prosecute individual officers and to force a police department to change its pattern of practice…just the mere threat of a federal  lawsuit may provide the needed push for reform within a law enforcement agency.”

During the Clinton Administration, just such a process of federal examination was being urged by Human Rights Watch and progressive African American leaders and it was killed by a stealth Aunt Jemima in the form of U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.  Carl Thomas, the attorney for Abner Louima, the Haitian immigrant sodomized in a NYPD police precinct bathroom by racist rogue cops, said of Lynch, “she is to be blamed for not aggressively pursuing blantant police misconduct.” 

Echoing sentiments by NY City Councilman Charles Barron, Attorney General Janet Reno, and the President himself had the power to force a federal takeover of the NYPD and mandate necessary reforms.  It was not done and they used a high level black flunky to do it. This is what unquestioning support for DLC democrats gets black folks.  The only agenda for New York the Clintons had in mind was Hillary’s election to the Senate.

The time has come to flip the script and demand accountability.  Sean Bell, and those who have suffered at the hands of NYPD rogue cops deserve a pound a flesh for the Clintons betrayal.