Friday, April 25, 2008

Queens judge acquits three NYPD detectives who shot groom-to-be

A judge this morning acquitted three New York Police Department detectives who killed a groom-to-be outside a Queens strip club. Judge Arthur Cooperman found officers Michael Cooper, Gescard Isnora and Marc Cooper not-guilty in the death of unarmed Sean Bell outside Kalua Cabaret on Nov. 25, 2006. Bell, who was to marry his fiancee later that day, died after the officers shot him 50 times. His friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, were severely wounded in the barrage of bullets.

Bell's death has obviously galvanized many New Yorkers who arguably remain weary of the NYPD. The death of unarmed immigrant Amadou Diallo in a hail of 41 bullets in 1999 remains a stark testimony of this reality. I confess my own distrust of the NYPD in response to several incidences of questionable conduct in my own neighborhood. Last spring, for example, I saw nearly half a dozen plain-clothed officers shoving the face of a bloody man onto the hood of a van as they shouted profanities at him. It was around 3 p.m., and a number of children on their way home from school saw this scene unfold on the block. I concede I don't know the specifics behind this man's arrest, but the conduct of the officers who detained him certainly left a lasting impression.

It must be said the vast majority of NYPD officers protect the public with honor. All New Yorkers -- gay, lesbian, black, white, etc., -- should acknowledge that. But the Bell shooting, and other incidents, certainly cast doubt among many people of color and others who remain concerned about the state of the department and the conduct of a handful of officers. And this debate will continue to rage.


Anonymous said...

We been covering Sean Bell’s case over at Highbrid Nation from the start and when I read today that the police officers were acquitted I was in serious disbelief. An unarmed man was shot 50 times and the people who did it are not responsible at all!? That’s crazy.

libhom said...

I would like to say I'm shocked, but I'm not. The verdict further undermines the credibility of the NY judiciary, which is desperate need of reform.