Officers in Sean Bell case acquitted

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Hat Tip: By Michael Wilson, NY Times

Three detectives were found not guilty Friday on all charges in the shooting death of Sean Bell, who died in a hail of 50 police bullets outside a club in Jamaica, Queens, in November 2006. The verdict prompted calls for calm from the mayor, angry promises of protests by those speaking for the Bell family and expressions of relief by the detectives.

Detective Michael Oliver, who fired 31 bullets the night of the shooting and faced manslaughter charges, said Justice Arthur J. Cooperman had made a “fair and just decision.”

Justice Cooperman delivered the verdict in State Supreme Court at 9 a.m. Giving his reasoning, he said many of the prosecution’s witnesses, including Mr. Bell’s friends and the two wounded victims, were simply not believable. “At times, the testimony of those witnesses just didn’t make sense,” the judge said.

Several supporters of Mr. Bell stormed out of the courtroom, and a few small scuffles followed outside the courthouse. By midafternoon, there were no suggestions of any broader unrest around the city. Mr. Bell’s family and fiancée left without making any comments and drove to visit his grave at the Nassau Knolls Cemetery and Memorial Park in Port Washington.

The verdict comes 17 months to the day since the Nov. 25, 2006, shooting of Mr. Bell, 23, and his friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, outside the Club Kalua in Jamaica, Queens, hours before Mr. Bell was to be married.

It was delivered in a packed courtroom. Mr. Bell’s family sat silently as Justice Cooperman spoke from the bench. Behind them, a woman was heard to ask, “Did he just say, ‘Not guilty?’ ” Detective Oliver and the two other defendants, Detectives Gescard F. Isnora and Marc Cooper, were escorted out a side doorway as court adjourned.

The acquittals do not necessarily mean the officers’ legal battles are over. Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said the three men could still face disciplinary action from the Police Department, but that he had been asked to wait on any internal measures until the United States attorney’s office determines whether or not it would pursue federal charges against them.

The seven-week trial, which ended on April 14, was heard by Justice Cooperman after the defendants waived their right to a jury, a strategy some lawyers called risky at the time. But it clearly paid off.

Before rendering his verdict, Justice Cooperman ran through a narrative of the chilly November evening when Mr. Bell died, and concluded “the police response with respect to each defendant was not found to be criminal.”

“The people have not proved beyond a reasonable doubt” that each defendant was not justified in shooting, the judge said, quickly adding that the men were not guilty of all of the eight counts, five felonies and three misdemeanors against them.

Roughly 30 court officers stood by, around the courtroom and in the aisles. At one point as he read, Justice Cooperman paused to insist that a crying baby be taken from the courtroom. Immediately a young woman who appeared to be among the Bell contingent got up and left with a baby.

The Rev. Al Sharpton accompanied Bell family members to the cemetery, and said later that they will join him on Saturday at a rally protesting the verdict. He said he had spoken to the governor and the mayor, and that he believed a federal civil rights prosecution of the officers would be appropriate.

“This verdict is one round down, but the fight is far from over,” Mr. Sharpton said.

He promised protests “to demonstrate to the federal government that New Yorkers will not take this abortion of justice lying down.” He even raised the possibility of taking protests directly to Justice Cooperman’s home.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called for calm. “There are no winners in a trial like this,” he said. “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.”

The mayor continued: “Judge Cooperman’s responsibility, however, was to decide the case based on the evidence presented in the courtroom. 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.”

He added: “There will be opportunities for peaceful dissent and potentially for further legal recourse — those are the rights we enjoy in a democratic nation. We don’t expect violence or law-breaking, nor is there any place for it.”

A subdued Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, whose office prosecuted the case, said at a news conference: “Judge Cooperman discharged his responsibilities fairly and consciously under the law. I accept his verdict, and I urge all fair-minded individuals in this city to do the same.”

Commissioner Kelly, speaking in Brooklyn, would not comment on the verdict itself. But he did say that while there were no reports of unrest in response to the acquittals, the Police Department was ready should it occur.

“We have prepared, we have done some drills and some practice with appropriate units and personnel if there is any violence, but again, we don’t anticipate violence,” Mr. Kelly said. “There have been no problems. Obviously there will be some people who are disappointed with the verdict. We understand that.”

Detectives Isnora and Oliver had faced the most charges: first- and second-degree manslaughter, with a possible sentence of 25 years in prison; felony assault, first and second degree; and a misdemeanor, reckless endangerment, with a possible one-year sentence. Detective Oliver also faced a second count of first-degree assault. Detective Cooper was charged only with two counts of reckless endangerment.

All three of the detectives, none of whom took the stand during the trial, spoke at the offices of their union on Friday afternoon. “I’ve just started my life back,” Detective Cooper said.

During the 26 days of testimony, the prosecution sought to show, with an array of 50 witnesses, that the shooting was the act of a frightened group of disorganized police officers who began their shift that night hoping to arrest a prostitute or two and, in suspecting Mr. Bell and his friends of possessing a gun, quickly got in over their heads.

“We ask police to risk their lives to protect ours,” said an assistant district attorney, Charles A. Testagrossa, in his closing arguments. “Not to risk our lives to protect their own.”

The defense, through weeks of often heated cross-examinations, their own witnesses and the words of the detectives themselves, portrayed the shooting as the tragic end to a nonetheless justified confrontation, with Detective Isnora having what it called solid reasons to believe he was the only thing standing between Mr. Bell’s car and a drive-by shooting around the corner.

Several witnesses testified that they heard talk of guns in an argument between Mr. Bell and a stranger, Fabio Coicou, outside Kalua, an argument, the defense claimed, that was fueled by bravado and Mr. Bell’s intoxicated state. Defense lawyers pointed their fingers at Mr. Guzman, who, they said, in shouting for Mr. Bell to drive away when Detective Isnora approached, may have instigated his death.

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Giuliani’s Christmas Ad (Revised)

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Copying front runner Mike Huckabee and sinking in national polls like a stone, a desperate Rudy Giuliani came out with his own holiday ad to deceive and reassure gullible Republicans.   

Rudy: There a many things I wish for this Holiday Season.  I wish for peace with strength, secure borders, a government that spends less than it takes in, lower taxes for our business and families, and I really hope that all the presidential candidates can just get along.  

Santa:  Ho, Ho, Ho, I was with ya right up until that last one. 

Rudy:   Can’t have everything. I’m Rudy Giuliani and I approved this message. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.   

This is the parody ad I would have him release.  

Rudy:  There are many things I wish for this Holiday Season.  I wish for another 9/11 to scare the American people into voting for me, a government that spies on its own people, huge tax loopholes for the rich, and I really hope that before Bernie Kerik goes to jail, his mob friends will help me rub out the smug prick with perfect hair, Mitt Romney. 

Judi, the social climbing homewrecker: I wanna be First Lady and America’s Queen. 

Black Santa:  Ho, I was with ya right up until that last one.  

Rudy:  You black bastard, I’ll teach you to never say everything that pops into your head to a white woman.

Rudy’s security team shoots Santa in the back 41 times and calls it justifiable homicide because Black Santa “fit the description.” 

Rudy:  I’m Rudy Giuliani and I enthusiastically approved this gross display of racist police state fascism.  Merry Christmas. Seig Heil.

NYPD Brutalize Human Rights Attorney

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 Attys Michael Tarif and Evelyn Warren leave 77th Precinct with supporters.

HAT TIP:  Black Electorate, By Amadi Ajamu, NY INDY MEDIA 

A human rights attorney known for handling cases of police brutality became a victim of police abuse last Thursday evening in Brooklyn. Attorney Michael Tarif Warren and his wife Evelyn, who is also an attorney, were driving along Vanderbilt Ave around 6:00 pm, when they witnessed NYPD officers “kicking and stomping” a handcuffed young black man. The Warrens pulled over to help.

Warren, a high profile attorney who has been practicing law for 28 years, said “We saw a young kid being chased by a horde of policemen across a McDonald’s parking lot. They tackled him and immediately put handcuffs on him. Then Sergeant Talvy, who appeared to be in charge, began kicking him in the head and ribs, and stomping him on the neck.” The other police officers followed suit. “They literally gave this kid a beating which was unconscionable.”

“Not only as people of conscience and moral decency, but as lawyers, we said this is outrageous.” They arrived and stood “more than ten feet away,” he said. Mr. Warren told Sergeant Talvy they were lawyers, and told him to stop and just take the young man to the precinct. In response he said, “Talvy shouted, I don’t give a f**k who you are, get the f**k back in your car!”

They returned to their car, and Mr. Warren began to write down the license plate numbers of the police vehicles as they watched them put the bleeding young man in a car. “Then Talvy comes to my car and viciously attacks me, repeatedly punching me through the window. Shouting, ‘Get out of the car!’ He dragged me out of the car, ripping my shirt and pants. My wife, very upset, asked him why are you doing this? He then punched her in the face.” Both were arrested and taken to the 77th precinct charged with obstruction, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest.

Michael Tarif Warren, has handled many police misconduct cases in the black community, including the shocking police murder of graffiti artist Michael Stewart, and Yvonne Smallwood, who was beaten to death by police in the Bronx. He also handled the case exonerating the five young black teenagers falsely convicted of raping the white bank executive “Central Park Jogger.”

Quickly, word of the Warrens arrest spread, and several hundred people descended on the 77th Precinct demanding his release. Organizations including the December 12th Movement, 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, Malcolm X Grassroots, International Action Center, CEMOTAP, the Muslim community, the Haitian community and many others were present and several media outlets were on hand.

NYC Councilman Charles Barron, Attorneys Roger Wareham, Reginald Haley, and Marisa Benton began negotiating their release with Brooklyn’s top brass, including Community Affairs Chief Douglas Zeigler, Brooklyn Borough Commander Chief Gerald Nelson, and 77th Precinct Executive Officer Michael Marino. At approximately 10:30 PM Evelyn Warren was released with a DAT (desk appearance ticket), Michael Warren was released with a DAT at 11:30 PM.

Councilman Barron and other community activists are demanding Talvy be fired and that Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hines “drop the charges (against the Warrens) and charge the police.”

Barron further criticized recent NYPD policy of making cops who kill or assault people take Breathalyzer tests for alcohol. “We need to stop the killing. Police who murder and assault us must be charge with crimes and put in jail. That is the only deterrent.”

Evelyn Warren added, “We are professionals, if they do this to us in broad daylight on a crowded street, what do they do in the dark when no one is around? That’s what I’m concerned about. Officer Talvy must go and Police Commissioner Kelly must go, because his policy allows this behavior to continue.”

If charges against them are not dropped, Michael and Evelyn Warren vow to take the case to trial and use it as a community mobilizing and educating tool to fight police brutality.

Campaign Mailbag: Giuliani again reaches out to wingnut America

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RUDY GIULIANI


Dear Wingnut,

I believe in solving problems through intimidation-not weakness-from hubris, not vacillation.

I’ve seen the everyday racism and homophobia of Americans across our country. I’ve seen people create political careers from nothing-using nothing more than the inherent fear white folks have of colored folks. I’ve witnessed how well it always works and have good reason to peddle the white fantasy that anybody can grow up to be President. In America, we love to congratulate ourselves for our openness to diversity while simultaneously asserting white privilege.

I am running for President because when I look to the future, I see a fascist police state where Americans are confident that their President is in rigid control of the country.

When I was first elected Mayor, we looked at the places where the City, or bureaucracy, or racial liberalism, were taking away people’s white pride. We cracked down and focused our sights—we took the bull by the horns.

Wages, hard work and ingenuity were overtaxed and overregulated. Too many white people felt like they couldn’t get ahead if they allowed black folks a level playing field and played by the rules. So we took decisive steps to dramatically slash social services and cut the N****** off welfare.

When I was elected Mayor, half the blacks were on welfare clogging up the system and sucking decent taxpayers dry. Therefore, we took on the state-sponsored liberal welfare state bullshit and turned “Welfare Offices” into “Job Centers” that became an Orwellian nightmare only a fascist could love.

We were successful because we refused to define deviancy down-instead we raised expectations and told the lazy ass blacks to get a damn job. We frustrated legitimate job seekers and people eligible for assistance and took on the black groups in the spirit of my mayoral campaign slogan, “one city, one fascist dictatorship.”

I’m writing you because you are some loon on a right-wing mailing list the campaign bought. You fancy yourself influential in your community and give to various and sundry right-wing causes and candidates. You know what they say, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” It would be great if you could be parted with a gift of $ 1,000, $500, $250, $100, $50, or even $25 bucks. If you could send it today, our grassroots hand holding and pacification of the troglodyte right can begin immediately.

We stand at one of he most crucial points in the history of the campaign-I got Fred Thompson breathing down my neck and I NEED YOUR SUPPORT.

Like you, I believe that Ronald Reagan was the greatest thing since sliced bread and that we must look toward the future to reassert our core values of hate, fear, racial polarization, respect for law and order, and a commitment to scaring the bejesus out of stupid people about Arab ragheads out to get us at home and around the world.

And while we know damn well that the bullshit in Baghdad and Afghanistan ain’t going well, I need to fill your stupid head up with ridiculous rhetoric about victory so that I can win your vote and the nomination.

This campaign is about strong, fascist leadership. When I took office in New York, people were afraid of criminal blacks and felt like they were losing control of their own lives. Drawing upon the “Broke Negroes” theory of policing, we cracked down on the quality-of-life-crimes such as walking, driving, and just plain being-while black. We cleaned the riff-raff out of Times Square so that wholesome white families from Nebraska could feel safe visiting the Big Apple.

To usher in an era of dictatorship based on our shared right-wing fascist Republican values, we must win this race for the White House so that I can uphold our priorities and demand accountability.

We will impose discipline on the budget by kicking the blacks and Hispanics off welfare. By doing so, we will reclaim our Reagan tradition as the party that understands the importance of hostility to minorities wins elections.

At the core of our approach to reform is the basic concept of white supremacy.

I believe that every parent should have the ability to send their child to the all-white school of their choice, be it public, private, or parochial.

We cannot be discouraged or cynical in the wake of our Party’s disastrous midterm F-up’s. For the Republican Party to win the presidency in 2008 and take back the majority in Congress, we must wholeheartedly embrace our core principles-or simply steal it again.

From the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, to Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, our party’s greatest contribution is to expanding the wealth of the top 1% and keeping the blacks and Hispanics down in this land and around the world.

When I say we should reduce taxes on the rich to stimulate the economy, I say it to slavishly appeal to the anti-tax nutcases and government phobic wingnuts that get off on that bullshit and will vote for me. It worked in New York because I did it and saw it work like a charm.

As Mayor, I stood up to the politics-as-usual agenda, held fast to my unprincipled demagoguery, and proved that:

  1. Tax relief creates more wealth for the rich and leaves the rest behind.
  2. Picking fights with a cartoonish clown like Al Sharpton was good for my approval ratings.
  3. Shooting an unarmed black man 41 times because the NYPD have a vague sense that he might have committed a crime is a public relations bonanza and an opportunity to pander to the basest elements of the white electorate.

Our party is at its best when it connects to the primal racial fears of the white populace.

At a time of war and danger, the Republican Party must nominate a proven demagogue. At a time when Americans want to feel confirmed in their desire for white privilege, the Republican Party must boldly lead in this direction. Being a stubborn prick with strong beliefs and the arrogance to stick with them through unpopular times is an essential characteristic of our next president.

I’ve been tested, after all, I was the gigantic asshole that brazenly flaunted my whore in public and then announced the dissolution of my marriage in a televised press conference before I asked my wife for a divorce to her face. If y’all can let me get away that bullshit and still take me seriously, I deserve the Republican nomination for President.

Sincerely,

Rudy Giuliani

New York City pays family of Timothy Stansbury $2million

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Timothy Stansbury, Jr

HAT TIP: Herald Tribune NEW YORK: The city has agreed to pay $2 million (€1.48 million) to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of an unarmed teenager who was shot by police while atop a housing project.

The death of 19-year-old Timothy Stansbury in 2004 “was a tragedy, and we offer our condolences to the family,” city lawyer Ken Sasmor said Wednesday. “We believe the settlement is in the best interests of all parties and hope it will provide some small measure of comfort.”

A telephone call to the family’s attorney was not immediately returned Wednesday.

The shooting occurred while Officer Richard Neri and his partner were patrolling atop a housing project in Brooklyn. Stansbury and two friends had decided to use a roof as a shortcut to another building.

Neri’s partner pulled open a rooftop door so that Neri, his gun drawn, could peer inside for any drug suspects, police said. Stansbury startled the officers by appearing at the door and moving toward Neri, who responded with one shot he claimed he fired by accident.

Though Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the shooting appeared to be unjustified, a grand jury declined to indict Neri.

Kelly later suspended Neri for 30 days without pay and permanently stripped him of his weapon. The victim’s mother said the 30-day suspension was too light a punishment.

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.

Giuliani 2008

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Rudy Giuliani-3.jpg

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a Republican presidential contender acclaimed for his leadership after the September 11 attacks, took a step closer to an official White House run on Monday.

He filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission establishing a committee to explore a presidential bid, which allows him to raise money, travel and hire staff.

“We still have to formally announce it and do a few more things, but this is about as close as you’re gonna get,” Giuliani said on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity & Colmes.” “We did everything you have to do, I guess, legally to do it, then you still have to make a formal announcement.”

The new paperwork removed the phrase “testing the waters” from the statement of candidacy Giuliani originally filed in November.

Giuliani said the move put him in the same position as his Republican rivals Arizona Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“If I were going to bet like you bet on the Super Bowl … I would bet that we are going ahead,” he told reporters in New York, before declining to give an announcement date except to say it would be “sooner rather than later.”

The move could calm growing doubts among Republicans about whether he is serious about a White House run in 2008. While Giuliani leads eight other Republicans in many national polls, there has been growing speculation he might not run.

He faces an uphill battle winning over conservatives who wield considerable influence in Republican primaries because of his stance on some social issues, including his support for gay rights and abortion rights

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.