Friday, April 25, 2008
Posted at 9:20 AM
Saying a lack of the witness credibility "eviscerated the people's case," Justice Arthur J. Cooperman returned a verdict of not guilty on all counts for three detectives charged in the shooting death of Sean Bell, who was gunned down outside Club Kalua 17 months ago in a hail of NYPD bullets on the eve of his wedding.
As reporters, protesters and onlookers were assembled outside State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens on Friday morning, PBA president Pat Lynch was the first to react to reporters, saying this "was a case where there is no winner and no losers, we still had a death that occurred... we still had officers who had to deal with that death." But Lynch said it sent a message to New York City police officers that says "you will get fairness" which was important to officers out on patrol because "there is never a script... we have to deal with circumstances as they come."
Calling for possible federal civil rights charges for the involved officers, Leroy Gadsden, of the Jamaica chapter of the NAACP, told WNBC Channel 4. "This is court is bankrupt when it comes to people of color."
A week into the trial, in "The Sean Bell Curveball For Cops on Trial," Sean Gardiner reported that many legal observers were puzzled by some of the strategies employed by prosecutors working for Queens DA Richard Brown.
"A week into the trial of three cops in the Sean Bell case, the prosecutors' theory that two of the cops were "acting in concert" when the bridegroom was gunned down in a hail of police bullets is striking a sour note with some observers.
For Judge Arthur Cooperman, who's hearing the case without a jury, to convict on the top counts of first- and second-degree manslaughter, he'd have to believe "that they planned it and they all had the same mind-set," says veteran defense attorney Marvyn Kornberg. "And that's ludicrous."
If anything, the prosecutors undercut their own theory during the first week of the trial by stressing the lack of planning by the accused officers' unit on the night of the shooting and the chaos that followed."
Bell was laid to rest on December 1, 2006 in service marked with both with great sadness and anger.
In "Guns Gone Wild," an examination of the frequency with which cops fire their weapons, and NYPD tactics in the wake of the Bell slaying, some observers questioned the efficacy of deploying details of detectives to stake out a two-bit strip club in Jamaica, Queens.
"Eugene O'Donnell, a former NYPD cop and prosecutor who is now a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, calls such initiatives "overpolicing." "What are these cops doing in a strip bar in Jamaica at four in the morning listening to trash talk?" O'Donnell says. "You've got alcohol and drugs being used and then you have cops bringing firearms and deadly force into the picture. So you have trouble. . . . We've got to stop overpolicing everything."
more: Sean Bell Shooting
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