New York Police Detective Gescard Isnora acted wrongly and should be fired after he unloaded shots that ultimately killed 23-year-old Sean Bell and seriously wounded two others as they sat in a car outside a nightclub in 2006, according to a recommendation from the department’s deputy commissioner made on Wednesday.
Isnora and another officer, Michael Carey, were the subjects of the Wednesday's departmental trial. The deputy commissioner ruled Isnora, who was working undercover, was wrong to drop his cover by clipping his shield to his jacket and firing 11 shots inside Sean Bell’s car where he and his friends sat. Carey, who fired three shots into the car, was found to have acted properly. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has the final say in the case and is expected to follow those recommendations, NY1 reports. In 2008, Isnora and two other officers were acquitted of criminal charges. Carey was never charged criminally.
Bell was at the Kalua strip club in Queens celebrating his bachelor party and was killed in the incident. He was to be married that day. His friends Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield were seriously wounded.
On the night of the shooting, Isnora said he thought he overheard Guzman say he had a gun and suspected the men were going commit a drive-by shooting after they got into an argument with a group of men moments earlier outside. However, no weapons were found in Bell’s car.
The case would reopen questions of police brutality and of whether Black men are unfairly targeted. Rev. Al Sharpton said Wednesday he would put pressure on Kelly to do “what’s right.”
"His decision on Isnora vindicates the position of those of us who have worked to vindicate Sean Bell and his family," Sharpton said in statement. "It also mandates that the police commissioner immediately fires Detective Isnora and not give retirement benefits to the others who were involved." Sharpton has worked as an advocate for Bell and with Bell’s fiancé, Nicole Paultre Bell, has organized marches and discussions around the shooting.
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