Sean Bell: Venue Switch Next?

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There must be no change of venue in this case, which continues to be reported on over the Internet and on the front page of every mainstream media. After all, where in the world would defense attorneys propose to go to find a jury that has not heard anything about this case? People in France, England, South Africa, Upstate New York, have read or heard about an unarmed Sean Bell being pronounced, “dead on arrival� at 4:56 A.M. at Jamaica Medical Center on his wedding day.

 

So we have no murder indictments in the brutal killing of Sean Bell by New York police--just manslaughter and reckless endangerment. Now, we must brace for that inevitable attempt to move the case away from New York City.


One bullet fired from a weapon is clearly intended to kill. When 50-plus bullets are fired at someone who is unarmed – that’s clearly murder.  The Queens District Attorney’s Office, headed by Richard Brown, adjudicated the Queens shooting under a secret Grand Jury and failed to indict each cop who discharged their weapon.  Did this secret Grand Jury get to choose from the murder or attempted murder charge?  Only three of the five undercover cops who discharged their weapons were indicted and are now awaiting their day in court.


In the early morning of November 25, 2006, nine members of the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) elite unit, known as the Club Enforcement Division, arrived at the “Kalua Cabaret,� in South Queens, which was on their, “Problem list,� for drugs and prostitution.  A problem that workers at the club deny and the area Community Board knew nothing about.


According to a NYPD confidential report of the shooting, a copy of which was obtained by The Black Star News, Detective Gescard Isnora, 28, and uncover UC#3900 (name not known) allegedly overheard Guzman say, “Yo, get my gun, get my gun.� It’s unclear who he (Guzman) was talking to or if any crime had been committed.  However, via a phone call, Isnora informed supervisor – Lieutenant Gary Napoli, “It is getting hot on Liverpool, for real.  I think there’s a gun.�  It appears shortly after that information was given all hell broke loose on Liverpool Street as the shooting commenced. Isnora allegedly discharged his weapon a total of 11-times and was the undercover who took the first shot around 4:14 A.M., approximately a whole city block away and around the corner from the “Kalua Cabaret.�  Any reports referring otherwise should be viewed as totally misleading and a disservice to the public—yet several news accounts in white media still refer to “outside the club� to make it appear as if it was instantaneous and not premeditated.


There must be no change of venue in this case, which continues to be reported on over the Internet and on the front page of every mainstream media. After all, where in the world would defense attorneys propose to go to find a jury that has not heard anything about this case? People in France, England, South Africa, Upstate New York, have read or heard about an unarmed Sean Bell being pronounced, “dead on arrival� at 4:56 A.M. at Jamaica Medical Center on his wedding day.  “I must say, however, that the question of a venue change is not only in my judgment and the judgment of those of us that discussed this when we heard this last night – not only in our opinion wrong, it is insulting to the intelligence of the public and it is insulting to the courts,� Rev. Al Sharpton, an advisor to the Bell family has stated.


“If there were any such application made, I would vigorously oppose it.  Motions for change of venue, as you probably know, are made directly to the appellate division, a court on which I sat for 10 years. They’re generally considered only after it’s been shown it’s impossible to pick a fair and impartial jury,� stated Queens County D.A. Richard Brown, who failed to get a murder indictment; at least in the Amadou Diallo 41 bullet assassination, Bronx County D.A. Robert Johnson had obtained a murder indictment before the powers that be yanked the case to Lily white Albany. 


In the Diallo case four white undercover NYPD members of the then Street Crimes Unit gunned down the unarmed Diallo, hitting him with at least 19 bullets. After the case was moved to the Bronx, the officers got a Christmas present and eventually walked—getting away with murder.


In the Sean Bell, his friends who were in the car early that morning, Joseph Guzman, and Trent Bennifield, whom were both seriously wounded, survived. Bell like Diallo will not be able to tell his story.  Guzman who was hit 17 times by police bullets and Trent Bennifield who was hit 3 times, both also unarmed, tell a totally different story from the undercover cops’ accounts.


There’s a thin line between being a law enforcer and being a perpetrator. Too often bad policing gets tossed in with good policing and this is where the problems arise.  There is no way a wrong can be made right.  There is no way when you take a life, you can get that life back. 


Every civil servant working in law enforcement in New York City receives firearm training at Rodman’s Neck Firearm range in the Bronx. Each member is trained to shoot center mask. There is no shoot to wound. You are trained to shoot to kill. In so many cases this training has come to pass – however, can it always be justified? 


This shooting has exposed the dark side of NYC’s police.  Members of the NYPD have too much contact with ordinary citizens and everyone is being treated like a criminal. The elderly, women and children are becoming victims of members of the NYPD, an unprofessional culture left over from former mayor Rudolph Giuliani and enhanced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg; he plays a kinder, gentler Giuliani well.


Marc Claxton and Noel Leader, who head the 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, appeared on different Black radio programs informing the listening public about police undercover work and what policies were broken in the Bell case. They continue, correctly, to call for a special prosecutor in the Sean Bell case and have no faith in the Queens District Attorney’s Office. The calls for the firing of Commissioner Raymond Kelly and training instructor Anthony Isszo have fallen on deaf ears. 


Attorneys Neville Mitchell and Peter St. George Davis who represent Bell’s parents have leveled the same sentiments. After the Grand Jury was charged by the judge, D.A. Brown allowed a bogus “witness� to testify before the Grand Jury, which clearly showed why a special prosecutor should have been put on this case from the start.  This “witness,� who first testified and stated he did not see anything, came back a second time saying a fourth Black man at the crime scene fired his gun at the police and ran into a building.  None of the five cops who discharged their weapons reported anyone firing at them after the November 25 killing of Bell. “There’s one word to describe a person who tells two different stories about the same incident, and it’s called – a liar,� stated Attorney Davis, of this “witness.�


There are a lot of lies that have been told in the place of the truth. According to the NYPD’s own report, Lt. Napoli, “—thought that the occupants of the Altima were firing shots at him and his team and he took cover.� After being labeled a coward, Napoli defended his actions saying he followed his NYPD’s training and did nothing wrong. How does one “think� he or she is being fired on if he or she is not being fired on?


More to come.


Columnist's note: If you tuned in to Black talk radio WLIB 1190 AM with Imhotep Gary Byrd’s, “Mind flight,� which once aired Monday thru Thursday mornings from 12:00 A.M. to 5:00 A.M., and are like most of us – ‘tired of being dumbed-down because of a lack of news and information in your community and around the city.’  Tell WLIB management, “I want to listen to the old Black talk radio program listed above.  One day is a disservice to our communities,� contact: Deon Levingston, Vice President and General Manager, WLIB Radio, 3 Park Avenue, New York New York 10016; telephone – 212-592-0426.  Send me your response and any reply and I will print it in this column.  Let’s stay informed.


Watch Manhattan cable channel 34 or
www.mnn.org channel 34 every Sunday at 7:30 P.M. for news updates and other articles.  You have any comments contact Winkfield for his consideration regarding covering your own story.  Email him: Bsnonthespot@aol.com or editor@blackstarnews.com; call (212) 481-7745.  Write to: On The Spot, Post Office Box 230149, Queens County 11423.  Together we can get the justice everyone just talks about.

 


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