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article imageThree Detectives Acquitted in Bell Shooting

By Owen Weldon     Apr 25, 2008 in Crime
On Friday morning three detectives were acquitted on all charges in the shooting death of Sean Bell, who died when he was shot outside a club in Jamaica Queens.
The verdict was read by Justice Arthur J. Cooperman and he said that witnesses for the prosecution's team were not believable and he said that at times the witnesses did not make any sense at all.
Several supporters of Bell stormed out of the courtroom when the verdict was read and you could hear them screaming in the hallway. Gescard F. Isnora, Michael Oliver and Marc Cooper, the three detectives, were than let out a side doorway and they were being shouted at by supporters behind a police barricade.
The verdict comes after more than a year of the shooting of Bell and his friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, outside a club in Queens, just hours before Bell was to be married.
The trial took seven weeks and finally ended on April 14. The verdict was heard by Cooperman after the defendants waived their right to a jury. The courtroom was packed when the verdict was read and Bell's parents and fiancee were present.
Justice Cooperman gave a narrative speech about the evening of the shooting and came up with the conclusion that the police acted correctly and they were not found to be criminal.
Cooperman also said that people did not prove that the defendants actions were not justified in the shooting. He than quickly read the not guilty verdicts and cleared the men of all eight counts, five felonies and three misdemeanors, against them.
When the verdict was read Bell's family sat silently and someone whispered behind them if the judge just said not guilty. More than 20 officers stood by in the aisles and all around the courtroom.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg spoke later after the trial and said that there were no winners in the trial because a bride lost er groom, an innocent man lost his life, two daughters lost their father, and a mother and father lost their son.
The mayor than defended Cooperman and said that as a judge his responsibility was to make a decision based on the evidence. The mayor went on and said that America is a nation of laws and people accept their authority, even when someone does not agree with the verdicts and opinions issued by the courts.
He continued and said that there are still opportunities for a possible further legal recourse and for peaceful dissent.
Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly did not comment on the verdict but he did say that the officers could still face disciplinary actions from the police department. The disciplinary action might be delayed because the United States attorney’s office asked Kelley to do so because it has to decide whether or not to pursue federal charges against the officers.
Kelley said that officers are ready in case any unrest develops. He said officers have been doing some drills and some practice with appropriate units and personnel in case there is any violence. Kelly says that there will be some people who are not happy with the verdict but he does not anticipate violence.
Detectives Isnora and Oliver could have faced a sentence of 25 years in prison if they were found guilty on charges of felony assault, first and second degree; and a misdemeanor, reckless endangerment.
During the trial the prosecution told the judge that the shooting was an act of frighten and enraged, disorganized cops who started their shift with hopes of arresting a prostitute or two and when they suspected that Bell and his friends had guns on them the police officers quickly got in over their heads.
The defense called their own witnesses to the stand and they portrayed the shooting as the tragic end to a justified confrontation. Detective Isnora says that he believes that he was the only thing standing between Bell's car and a drive-by-shooting.
Witnesses testified at the trial and said that they heard Bell and a stranger arguing and that they heard talk of guns. Defense lawyers say that Mr. Guzman was shouting for Bell to drive away when Isnora was approaching and that may have instigated Bell's death.
Isnora says that he approached the men with his badge clipped to his collar and drew his gun and told them that he was a police officer and not to move as he was approaching Bell's vehicle.
Other witnesses who were mostly friends of Bell say that Bell and his friends had no idea that Isnora was a police officer when he walked up with his gun drawn.
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