Sean Bell Suspect Books Prison Term?

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Two detectives with the New York City Police Department were formerly indicted on manslaughter charges in the November 25 killing of Sean Bell, the unarmed African American who was to be married later that day. A third detective was charged with reckless endangerment.

Two of Bell’s friends, Trent Benefield, 23 and Joseph Guzman, 31, who were also in the car were both seriously wounded.

Charged with manslaughter were suspect Michael Oliver, who fired 31 shots and suspect Gescard Isnora, who shot 11 times; they face 25 years behind bars. Suspect Marc Cooper, who fired four shots, faces a year behind bars. There were a total of five officers who fired a combined 50 shots; two were not charged. All were suspended after the killing—Bell had just emerged from a nightclub celebrating his last day as a bachelor.

Suspect Oliver, who may have booked his ticket to prison, was photographed last Friday on the day he learned he had been indicted, emerging from a restaurant club where he consumed wine, ringing up a tab with friends in excess of $4,000.

Shortly after the November 25 killing, Assistant Police Chief Michael Collins told The Black Star News that the first detective to discharge his gun, (Isnora as it was subsequently revealed) had been drinking before the shooting; Chief Collins later attempted to retract.

Richard Brown, Queens County District Attorney announced the formal charges today—the Grand Jury vote returned Friday. The suspects were arrested today.

"This is only the beginning of this case," DA Brown said. "This case has got to be tried in an open courtroom and all of the facts and all of the law will be available to all of you as you watch this trial proceed." 

"Nothing anyone can do will bring back Sean Bell. But we can resolve to learn what lessons we can from this tragedy," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said today.

National Action Network President Rev. Al Sharpton said: "These were officers of the law, operating under the cover of the law, and had the ability beyond what a normal citizen would have, and they in our judgment and clearly as certified by this grand jury, used that privilege to engage in criminal activity.�

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