Posted April 10, 2008 – The mother of Sean Bell, the unarmed, 23-year-old Black man who was gunned down by New York Police detectives on the eve of his wedding, said she is disappointed by the way lawyers for the officers have portrayed her son and his friends during the trial.
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For their role in Bell’s death following a bachelor’s party in Queens in November 2006, Detectives Michael Oliver and Gescard Isnora have been charged with manslaughter, felony assault and reckless endangerment; Det. Marc Cooper has been charged with reckless endangerment.
Defense attorneys have said that they fired their fusillade of 50 bullets at Bell and his two friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, because they heard one of the party-goers say “get the gun.” The detectives, who were in plainclothes the night they shot Bell, also contend that they identified themselves and that men refused their order to halt and show their hands.
Guzman and Benefield say the detectives never warned them, nor did they have a gun. No weapon was ever found.
During the trial, the defense attorneys hammered the point that Guzman, who survived despite 19 bullet holes, had spent time in prison for selling crack several years ago, and that Benefield had smoked marijuana daily for the past seven years.
Speaking to WCBS News, Bell’s mother,Valerie Bell, said that she will "pray for peace and understanding" even if the judge acquits the three detectives.
The police actions sparked protests in New York two years ago. The verdict in the case will be delivered by a judge, since the officers waived their right to a jury trial, believing they would not be able to find an impartial jury in Queens.
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