NYPD officers involved in the shooting death of a man hours before his
wedding day will face charges related to the incident.
Sean Bell died in a hail of 50 bullets hours before his wedding day late last year after leaving his bachelor party at a New York area strip club. Det. Michael Oliver fired 31 shots during the encounter, and Det. Gerard Isnora, who fired 11 shots, will face first and second degree manslaughter charges.
The first degree charge carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison. The second degree allows an option for probation.
A third officer in the case, Det. Mark Cooper
who fired four shots is charged with two counts of reckless
endangerment. The other two officers also face one count of the charge.
“This case, at its best, is a return to grief for all of those involved,” Rev. Al Sharpton stated at a press conference today. Sharpton attended with several members of Bell ’s family and friends, including his fiancé, Nicole Paultre Bell.
Tensions have run high in New York
with several members of the Black community and local police. Many
residents are reminded of the NYPD’s 41-shot killing of another unarmed
Black man, Amadou Diallo in 1999. The officers involved were tried and acquitted.
Detectives Isnora, Cooper and Oliver pled not guilty to the charges after this afternoon’s arraignment. Queens District Attorney Richard Brown says the pending trial will not be moved outside of the Queens area.
“This is where public opinion is equally divided, in my opinion,” Brown says of the area. “The jury should be representative of the diversity of this county.”
Brown also lauded the grand jury, who listened to 22 days of testimony before delivering the indictment.
grand jury acted in the most responsible and conscientious fashion.
This was a case that was, I’m sure, not easy for them to resolve.”
Hip Hop community has not remained silent in the months following the
tragedy. Several emcees have spoken up and released records, including 50 Shots from Papoose.