Posted April 23, 2008 – The father of Sean Bell, the 23-year-old unarmed Black man who was shot dead by New York Police detectives on the eve of his wedding day, says he will not rest until son’s killers are behind bars.
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"If there's ever been a case of civil rights violations, this case speaks to that. We look forward to justice. If not justice on Friday, wherever the road may lead," said a grieving William Bell, pointing to the likelihood that he’ll ask for the Justice Department to retry the three officers who fired the shots if they are acquitted. Such intervention is “necessary,” Bell said, “if it makes them go to jail.”
Queens Supreme Court Justice Arthur Cooperman is expected to hand down verdicts on detectives Michael Oliver, Marc Cooper and Gescard Isnora, who fired 50 bullets at Bell and his two friends – Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman – outside of the Club Kalua in November 2006. When the smoke cleared, Bell lay dead, and his friends were riddled with bullet holes but survived.
The detectives requested a trial by a judge, believing that it would be impossible for find an impartial jury in Queen, where the shooting took place. But if their gamble doesn’t pay off and Cooperman convicts Oliver and Isnora of manslaughter, felony assault and reckless endangerment, they could spend the next 25 years in prison. Cooper could serve up to a year if he’s found guilty of reckless endangerment.
Many of New York’s most outspoken Black leaders are agreeing with William Bell, that anything short of convictions demands federal involvement. The NAACP’s Leroy Gadsden and the Rev. Al Sharpton are among those demanding justice.
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