NY Cops Gun Down Bridegroom

Sean Bell, age 23, was shot and killed by police in a hail of bullets last night as he was leaving his bachelor party in Queens, just hours before his wedding.

Sean and his bride-to-be, 22 year old Nicole Paultre, had been together for several years and are the parents of two children, a three year old and a five year old.

More than 50 rounds were fired at the car he was driving. Sean was shot in the shoulder, neck and right arm. Two other young men were wounded.

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said at a news conference last night that the men’s car had been hit at least 21 times. He said he did not know what triggered the shooting and that it was too early to tell if it was justified. No guns were found at the scene, and no charges have been filed against the men, the police said.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said in a statement last night that it was too early to draw conclusions about the case. “We know that the N.Y.P.D. officers on the scene had reason to believe an altercation involving a firearm was about to happen and were trying to stop it,” he said.

As for accounts of what happened:

In a statement, Commissioner Kelly said that about 4 a.m. a group of men confronted a man outside the strip club and that one man in the group yelled, “Yo, get my gun.”

The altercation broke up, and the men separated into two groups, with an undercover officer following one group. The men being followed by the undercover officer got into the Altima that then hit the minivan.

The police said that one officer who leaped from the minivan, a 12-year police veteran, fired 31 times, and an undercover officer with nine years on the force fired 11 times. The other officers fired three, four and five times. Shell casings from the officers’ 16-shot, 9-millimeter semiautomatic weapons littered the street; at least 40 were later recovered. A fourth person may have been in the Altima, police said.

Amadou Diallo redux? Al Sharpton is on the scene.

Mr. Sharpton, a civil rights leader who has often protested police actions in high-profile and racially charged cases, challenged the police to explain what had happened.

“This is a shocking case,” he said at an afternoon news conference outside Mary Immaculate Hospital, his second of the day in the case. He was flanked by relatives and friends of the victims, most of them somber and some sobbing.

Mr. Sharpton said Mr. Guzman might have been struck by anywhere from 8 to 17 bullets. “The doctor told us it was 17 wounds,” which could have included entry and exit points, he noted.

Instead of a wedding, a vigil was held for Sean Bell today. Other groups are joining a call for action.

On Sunday, the group 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care said it is issuing a vote of no confidence in Kelly over the shooting.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Other things to worry about (1.00 / 1) (#1)
    by jarober on Sun Nov 26, 2006 at 03:44:05 PM EST
    The proliferation of cameras everywhere - and liberals are not the only ones concerned.  

    As well, I'd like to see a lot more light and heat applied to the all too common police tactic of no knock raids.

    I may not always agree with TL, but I would like to see a lot more accountability when the police screw up.

    the more i hear (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Sun Nov 26, 2006 at 09:09:24 PM EST
    about this "incident", the weirder it sounds. so far, it appears that the only guns in evidence were those of the police. what set them off remains a complete mystery.

    however, it doesn't appear that anyone specifically was a target, they seem to have just been firing wildly. that's a violation of the most basic rule: identify your target.

    i'm not sure having sharpton involved is in anyone's best interest, other than rev. sharpton's.

    I've been waiting to hear something plausible (none / 0) (#3)
    by Kitt on Sun Nov 26, 2006 at 09:46:11 PM EST
    It's not happening.

    The undercover police officer who fired the first shots at a carload of men in Queens early Saturday, setting off a storm of police bullets that killed a bridegroom and injured two of his friends, suspected at least one of the men had a gun and was intent on returning with it to a nearby strip club, according to a person briefed on the accounts of officers involved in the shootings......

    ....But Saturday's shootings may have violated police department rules, which largely prohibit officers from firing at vehicles. According to police guidelines, officers can fire their weapons only when they or another person is threatened by deadly physical force, but not if that physical force comes from a moving vehicle alone.

    I don't know, seems to me if some man steps in front of my car at 4:00 am with a gun drawn, I'd be a bit frightened to say the least.

    50 bullets from 5 officers.....does that quality as a 'hailstorm?'

    A very badly aimed hailstorm (none / 0) (#4)
    by Sailor on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 12:14:58 AM EST
    The car, driven by Bell, was struck by 21 of the police bullets
    Does the phrase 'broad side of a barn' occur to anyone else?

    There might be an explanation:

    [NYPD spokesman Paul] Browne also said it was unclear whether the officers involved in the shooting had been drinking.

    The Person (none / 0) (#5)
    by jondee on Tue Nov 28, 2006 at 10:52:15 AM EST
    Amazing how much credibility and authority the   apparent lone "person" on the scene has with the  Times. If thier first priority was to reassure the citizenry that it neednt be concerned about   being caught it another "hailstorm", they couldnt ask for a better lone witness.

    more info (none / 0) (#6)
    by Sailor on Tue Nov 28, 2006 at 11:10:51 AM EST
    Officers are trained to shoot no more than three bullets before pausing to reassess the situation, Kelly said in his most detailed assessment of the shooting yet. Department policy also largely prohibits officers from firing at vehicles, even when they are being used as weapons.
    Some of the leaders expressed dismay over Kelly's disclosure that one of the undercover officers had two beers in the course of the operation inside the nightclub but was not given a breathalyzer test.
    The cop admitted to 2 beers, I wonder how many he really had.

    Cops lie, it's what they do. And just like in Atlanta, their initial explanations need to be taken with a whole barrel of salt.

    Their stories can't be believed w/o outside, independent verification.

    The more I know, the more I don't like this. (none / 0) (#7)
    by Kitt on Tue Nov 28, 2006 at 12:53:20 PM EST
    And, I didn't like it at all to begin with.

    I think these guys thought they were being targeted for some reason - mugging or worse - and had no idea who these guys were. Even in my fairly safe town, if you are following behind me at 4:00 A.M., then I'm not going to ask many questions when you jump in front of my car with a guy pointed at me. I'm leaving - either forward or backwards AND you're not wearing anything that specifically identifies you as law enforcement, i.e., a uniform.