Officer In Groom Slay Was Drinking

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[BlackStar Exclusive] It’s possible this officer, who had been drinking and subsequently fired 11 shots, was intoxicated, something the police could not rule out. Asked whether this officer was the first of the five officers to fire his weapon, Assistant Police Chief Michael Collins said, “It’s uncertain at this time.�

 

(Bell with Paultre and daughter).

[BlackStar Exclusive] One of the Police Officers involved in the shooting death of Sean Bell, groom-to-be, in a hail of 50 bullets had been drinking as part of his undercover work at the night club where the bachelor party was held, The Black Star News has learned.

It’s possible this officer, who had been drinking and subsequently fired 11 shots, was intoxicated sources tell The Black Star News. Asked whether this officer was the first of the five officers to fire his weapon, Assistant Police Chief Michael Collins said, “It’s uncertain at this time.� Collins confirmed that the officer had consumed some alcohol in order to blend in during his undercover work.

Collins declined to identify the officer since he is undercover. All the five involved in the shooting have been stripped of their weapons and placed on paid administrative duty pending investigations.

Collins said only one officer --the one who drank-- had been inside Club Kalua where Bell, 23, celebrated his last night as a single man with two friends, both of whom were later injured in the shooting, one critically—four officers were outside. The police say there was undercover work against prostitution at the club.

Collins said undercover officers in such scenarios are allowed “one or two drinks� but are not supposed to become intoxicated. “They are monitored and we know exactly how much they spend,� Collins said. “It is an essential tool to make the undercover appear authentic,� he said, of the drinking.

Collins said all the officers received training in firearms discharge, one as recently as October this year; one in April; two in March; and, one in January. Collins didn’t indicate whether any training for firearms discharge while under the influence of alcohol is provided.

Councilmember Charles Barron reacted with anger when he learned that officers are allowed to drink during undercover work: “You don’t know how many drinks make one person intoxicated!� He added that some witnesses have come forward to say that the officer in question had more than the two drinks police say they’re allowed.

Barron, who met with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Bloomberg today, noted that even police confirmed that officers can’t justify the use of deadly force even against a vehicle that is being used against them as a weapon. “This young man should be on his honeymoon with his bride,� he said. “His blood is in the hands of Bloomberg and Kelly—especially Kelly, he should resign immediately because of the pattern of racially motivated violence in our community.�

Barron said Kelly and Bloomberg may not know the extent of anger against police in the community. “They don’t police the white communities this way. I don’t care whether the officers are Black or white,� he said. “It’s a racial powder keg ready to explode. If the mayor and Commissioner don’t take care of it, the people in the community will--because they are fed up.�

Separately, in what appears to be a move to distance his administration from the bloody debacle, mayor Bloomberg called the firing of 50 shots “excessive,� and “unacceptable.� Bloomberg said there would be a thorough investigation. He said he wants New York to be a city where every community feels it is treated fairly and people can go about their professional and social functions without “having to look over� their shoulders. Bloomberg made his remarks at a news conference at City Hall today.

In an interesting choice of words, Bloomberg also referred to “victims� clearly shifting the burden on the police, something that never would have happened under former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who was openly hostile towards African Americans. Giuliani once joined a rally –before he was mayor—where police officers surrounded City Hall and chanted the N-word in reference to then mayor David Dinkins, an African American.

Additionally, Bloomberg said it appeared the officers had violated departmental regulations by firing into the vehicle.

Bell, 23, was to have wed his long-time sweetheart, Nicole Paultre, 21, on Saturday. Instead, she has been left to bury him. Two friends who had partied with Bell – celebrating his last night as a bachelor – were wounded, one critically.

Yesterday, hundreds of New Yorkers showed solidarity with the family by rallying outside Mary Immaculate Hospital in Queens where the survivors, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, are being treated.

To send us a news scoop, a tip, or to subscribe to or advertise in New York’s leading Pan African weekly investigative newspaper, please call (212) 481-7745 or send a note to Milton@blackstarnews.com  Our motto is: “Speaking Truth To Empower.�

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