NEW YORK - Three detectives were acquitted of all charges Friday in the 50-shot killing of an unarmed groom-to-be on his wedding day, a case that put the NYPD at the center of another dispute involving allegations of excessive firepower.
Justice Arthur Cooperman delivered the verdict in a Queens courtroom packed with spectators, including victim Sean Bell's fiancee and parents, and at least 200 people gathered outside the building.
Outside the courthouse, which was surrounded by scores of police officers, many in the crowd began weeping as news of the verdict said. Others were enraged, swearing and screaming "Murderers! Murderers!" or "KKK!"
Nice try with the "KKK" comment, especially since two of the detectives are black. Idiots.
Officers Michael Oliver, 36, and Gescard Isnora, 29, stood trial for manslaughter while Officer Marc Cooper, 40, was charged only with reckless endangerment. Two other shooters weren't charged. Oliver squeezed off 31 shots; Isnora fired 11 rounds; and Cooper shot four times.
The mood surrounding this case has been muted by comparison, although Bell's fiancee, parents and their supporters, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, have held rallies demanding that the officers — two of whom are black — be held accountable.
And there it is. If all three of the detectives were white, Sharpton would have people burning down the city. Al probably punched a hole in his wall when he heard that two of the detectives were black.
As the club closed around 4 a.m., Sanchez and Isnora claimed they overheard Bell and his friends first flirt with women, then taunt a stranger who responded by putting his right hand in his pocket as if he had a gun. Guzman, they testified, said, "Yo, go get my gun" — something Bell's friends denied.
Of course, his boys denied that. I guarantee that Bell said it, though.
Isnora said he decided to arm himself, call for backup — "It's getting hot," he told his supervisor — and tail Bell, Guzman and Benefield as they went around the corner and got into Bell's car. He claimed that after warning the men to halt, Bell pulled away, bumped him and rammed an unmarked police van that converged on the scene with Oliver at the wheel.
The detective also alleged that Guzman made a sudden move as if he were reaching for a gun. (H/T - AP via Yahoo!)
Unlike most people in the media, I can't give an honest opinion of what happened that night. I wasn't there. But, if I learned nothing else in 14 years as a police officer, I learned this: I do not play Monday Morning Quarterback with a police shooting.
The judge listened to the facts at hand, and believed that the detectives' version of events was more believable than the victims' version. End of story.