Officers indicted in Sean Bell case


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.”

27 thoughts on “Officers indicted in Sean Bell case

  1. dblhelix

    The key is what they will be charged with. It could be as weak as reckless endangerment of bystanders.

  2. rikyrah

    I agree. What are the charges?

    Because half-assed charges are as insulting as not being indicted at all.

  3. Jim

    Wow, the three comments above this are really something. You guys should have gone past pre-school, you may have gotten a job from a white guy.

  4. Jim,

    Yes, Indeedy. I am sure that you’re the type of white guy who “looks beyond race” to see the person, and as a result, your workplace is filled with happy, qualified, right-wing Negroes who parrot anti-black, pro-police Fox News talking points just like you. 🙂

  5. TL

    There’s no question that the police officers in mention used unnecesarry, excessive force & should be punished. However, it’s interesting to note that this article doesn’t mention AT ALL that the reason the undercover officers opened fire on Sean Bell & his friends was that they deliberitly hit him with their vehicle before ramming the undercover police van. No mention either that Bell was a drug dealer with previous convictions, or that a witnesses has testified to there being a fourth man with a gun in Bell’s party. The media feels they only need to report SOME of the facts so those living outside of NYC can unquestionably paint the officers as racists.

  6. Wow I didn’t know that having previous convictions meant your head and abdomen could be used as target practice. Hmmm…learn something new every day. Thanks for pointing out that the media overlooked that.

  7. TL


    Sigh… read my post again, and this time actually read the first sentence. Read the word “unnecessary.” Read the phrase “should be punished.” Then try to actually figure out the point of my comment.

  8. Yeah I read that and I was commenting on this part…

    “No mention either that Bell was a drug dealer with previous convictions”

    That is relevant how? Thank you.

  9. Zedekiah

    I’ve also noticed that there has been no mention of Bell and his friends deliberately hitting the undercover officer with their vehicle.
    Bell’s previous convictions is news to me.
    Racism and the deplorable acts that accompany it cannot be tolerated and should be dealt with in a civil, just manner. However,
    I do not believe this sad incident has any relation to be being an ugly, hate crime. What I see is Bell (a man with previous convictions for drug dealing) assaulting with his vehicle an individual he didn’t know to be a cop; and the police responded
    in a questionable manner. But, were there actions out of fear to
    protect their own lives or were their actions out of anger that
    Bell had hit a fellow officer and they were not going to let him
    get away with it? In any case, I feel they had responded with excessive force and sadly took away part of Paultre’s life as

  10. Holly

    So, boy’s and girl’s, since when is NYPD god? You know, allowed to take a life, which could have been 3 lives. I’m far from religious but, unless someone shoot’s at me…or is endangering me or mine, death should be natural, not by some trigger happy asshole. There is no excuse…drugs or not. How many guy’s have gone to a strip joint for their bachelor party? Is that a crime? Is that threatening? Cops may have a licence to carry a gun (so do I), but not a licence to randomly kill.

    TL sounds to me you’re a cop…NYPD? Maybe, but not neccesarily, many of my friends are cops (LAPD), a little sympathy for the boy’s go’in on here?

  11. Wolf

    It is easy for us all to make comments and pass judgement on
    someons else’s actions and decisions. Try to imagine yourself in the same situation. Being undercover close to individuals with questionable backgrounds and one is suspected to be in possession of a gun. The threat level increases once you see your partner almost get run over. What would any of us do? Respond brashly with reckless and excessive force or keep our cool, control the adrenaline, and resolve the tense moment with no lives lost? What was the experience level of these cops

  12. TL

    Ernesto: It’s relevant because as Bell was a known felon (for crack dealing and firearms posession,) the officers may have recognized him earlier in the evening. This may have contributed to the officer’s state of mind when he opened fire after Bell attacked him with his car. It doesn’t excuse why the rediculous amount of force was used, but it does bring up the question of why weapons were drawn in the first place. (and no, Holly, I’m not a cop.)

    Again, you’re completely missing the point of my post .You’re targeting in on what you perceive as unfairness toward the victims. For the last time, my point was not to excuse the officers or to blame Bell, but that the media is only feeding the public the information that it wants them to have. The entire story should be reported, and the public should make its judgements based on that.

  13. Wolf

    I agree with TL that the full story is not being reported so that the public can make a decision based upon all facts presented. But, the media has always been this way. Most of the time, they want others to think as they think; so, the story is then written in a bias manner with particular words being used and/ or the absence of information that should be present.

  14. Holly

    TL you’re abosolutely right, as are you Wolf. We need the full story, ha! and probably will never get. Question TL, ok not a cop, but how do you have SO MUCH detail?

  15. mike

    To comment on TL: The press has always reported the facts which they see “fit to print.” The NYPD always releases information which puts their rank and file in the best light. It all matters on which side of the fence you are sitting on. Sean Bell’s past, no matter how jaded it may or may not have been is of no relevance to the instant case. Proper procedure and protocol must be followed and, in the instant case these “officers” are murderers.

  16. TL

    Holly: I live in NYC. All this information has been reported in the local papers, (The Daily News, the New York TImes, The NY Post, Newsday) and news programs in much more detail than it has in other areas, because it’s…well… local news. If you google or Wikipedia “Sean Bell” you can find out more information as well.

    Sadly, all news sources- are biased in some way. The only way to get the full picture is to check out all available sources & then make a decision.

  17. “…the officers may have recognized him earlier in the evening. This may have contributed to the officer’s state of mind…”

    Pure conjecture, as they say in TV courtroom dramas. Did any of the cops make this claim? If not, then why are you? You seem to be grasping at straws to come up with your biased claim that the media is biased against the cops.

  18. Kevin L

    1st of all the undercover officer claimed to identify himself as a police officer when they were in the car. Picture yourself leaving the club in the morning and some guy comes rushing up to your car shouting while you’re in the car. It would seem like a carjack, the 1st thing carjackers do is try to block you in. So i could see Bell’s 1st instinct to create an escape route. 1 officer emptied his clip, reloaded and fired again (31 shots?) what did the guy do to deserve this? Some mention of a weapon, some missing 4th guy that was placed with the group probably because he was their age and black? That’s not worth the lives lost, yes lives because this affects everyone surrounding Sean Bell. They were there because they were investigating the club, not Sean Bell. Period. No gun found. Period. He had a prior criminal record, u think he had his record printed on his forehead? How did the officer know he was next to individuals with “questionable backgrounds”, Wolf? The guy was enjoying himself at a friggin bachelor party at a strip club, something done for years by thousands of men. How was those unarmed men such a threat that the only response was that amount of “sanctioned government violence” ?

  19. TL

    Ernesto: no, the drug charge is actually beside the point. I find the fact that the article doesn’t mention at all the reason WHY the officer opened fire, (that Bell attacked him with his car first) evidence of media bias. You seem to be the one “grasping at straws” picking on the most insignificant flaw you can find to miss the point entirely. I personally don’t care which way the media is biased- I just don’t like facts being omitted in order to sway the public.

  20. Kelechi

    All the reports I read or watched early on did in fact note that Bell and his friends used their car as a weapon. The reports did also say that they used their car to protect themselves against men who drew weapons against them and without identifying themselves as police officers first. There have been reports from as early as a week after the incident that there may have been a fourth man with a gun who shot at the cops. The funny thing is that subsequent searches have turned up no weapons, no shells, no bullet holes in the other direction, no other witnesses in strip club who saw a group of four men, no nothing. I personally wouldn’t be so quick to claim racism. In fact, I usually don’t think of racism in these cases. I think of the lack of commitment that many officers have toward their communities. This is often a result of police officers hired to protect and patrol neighborhoods they don’t live anywhere near. On the other hand, racism cannot be ruled out simply because 2 or 3 of the officers were black. During slavery and the holocaust some of the worst treatment against the victims came from members of their own, who sought to maintain their own protection or sense of prestige. As we wait for more information and developments in the case, we can, i hope, all agree that at the very least, an inexcuseable amount of excessive force was used against the Bell party that night. I can’t see how and officer could empty his weapon and not wait to assess damages or the status of the situation before reloading and emptying out again….

  21. Kelechi’s comment regarding some police officer’s detachment from the communities they serve is a valid one. This issue may not speak directly to the Sean Bell case, but it definitely matters because we know that so many reactions to outsiders stem from sheer ignorance.

    The NYPD and NYFD used to require its officers to live in the five boroughs. While you can’t force people to live in the communities in which they work, I believe that people who work in these types of intimate environments need to have some type of investment in the community.

    To the NYPDs credit, they do have programs like PAL and trick-or-treating at the precincts.

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