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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