Three NY Cops Indicted in Sean Bell's Wedding Day Killing

Sean Bell was at his bachelor party the night before his wedding. As he was leaving, he was killed by a blaze of 50 police bullets.

The grand jury has indicted three of the five cops who fired at him. No one knows what charges they have been indicted on since the Indictments will be sealed until Monday. Photos of the five cops are here.

The grand jury has been considering murder, manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide. It deliberated on the charges for three days. More than 60 witnesses testified in the inquiry.

Bell's family maintains the cops fired without warning. The Rev. Al Sharpton had this to say:

"The only way you make sure it doesn't happen again is you stop it, and you punish it and you send a signal that we live in a society where laws have to be respected," he said. "So there is no joy, no vengeance, no party here."

Others have characterized the killing as a case of contagion-shooting.

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    so when are the winds (none / 0) (#1)
    by orionATL on Fri Mar 16, 2007 at 09:12:13 PM EST
    of change going to blow?

    this indictment

    (no guarantee of conviction, after all the lying to the jury has been completed)

    is a sort of atonement by the new york judicial system.

    but it does not bring sean bell back "to love and cherish until death do us part" - death already parted "us".

    more to the point of my concerns,

    this case is just one of hundreds in the united states in the last three decades, where, IMHO, the police have abused their power to stop, detain, question, arrest, or assault or kill citizens.

    the infringements by our police on life and liberty,

    ranging from much publicized events like shooting sean bell or beating rodney king,

    to much smaller events is unacceptable.

    what are some of those smaller events, which are both magnitudes more common and more widely destructive of confidence in police authority?  

    •  where i live a women was stopped by a police officer and given a citation related to the political bumper sticker on her car.

    • in yet another, a visiting professor in town for an international conference had his legs kicked out from under him  by a young undercover/out-of-uniform  police officer for  some unspecified reason involving the professor's demanding the cop show i.d. and not having his  passport with him when he left his hotel room to take a walk.

    then there are the truly notorious cases like that documented by the ny times bob herbert involving the arrest and conviction on "drug" charges of numerous  blacks in a small texas town, which convictions were based solely (aside from racial animosity) on the testimony of a lying "undercover" officer.

    or that involving a 93-year old woman who was killed when drug cops raided her apartment and she opened fire, mistaking them for burglars. the cops had lied about the "need" for the raid.

    and i would add to this list

    the repeated police/secret service  harassment, detention, or arrest of protesters at events attended by president bush and v-p cheney, witness the u.s. capitol police arrest of cindy sheehan  at one of president bush's  state of onion addresses.

    for my money, it is not enough to say, as the judges and juries too often do:

    well, policemen have a tough job, give them some leeway.

    tough, yes -

    anyone who has observed the characteristic hardness in a police officer's face understands that.  

    but having a tough job is no excuse for breaking the implied contract with non-crime-committing citizens by threatening or harming them.

    no excuse for breaking the  law in other words.

    police need to be trained to discriminate - i'm willing to bet the army or marines do a much better training job in this regard than do our local police.

    but most curative of all,

    police who abuse their power by threatening or harming relatively innocent citizens in their communities need to be held to the same standards of conduct they presumptively are holding their "arrestee" to.

    now that the power of the dna review movement has soaked into the consciousness of the legal/juridical profession

    perhaps another type of review can begin, conducted systematically in each state of the nation:

    the review of convictions where police abuse of power (or proctorial abuse) have a high probability of having occurred.

    charging cops (none / 0) (#2)
    by diogenes on Sat Mar 17, 2007 at 08:31:51 PM EST
    If a doctor makes a bad judgment leading to a patient's death, he is charged with malpractice, with a civil lawsuit stating that there was negligence.  Does anyone really think that these cops did anything more than police malpractice (i.e. poor professional judgment which is compensated for by civil penalties and possible removal from the police) rather than some sort of intentional murder or manslaughter?

    I don't know what.... (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 08:12:30 AM EST
    you call 50 shots at 3 unarmed men....but comparing it to malpractice is laughable.  

    No doubt its closer to murder than malpractice. Maybe one shot accidentally fired is akin to malpractice...but 50?

    Besides...a doctor is at least trying to help somebody...who were these cops trying to help?


    site shutdown for using photo of cop (none / 0) (#4)
    by uitvlugt on Sun Mar 18, 2007 at 10:31:50 PM EST
    our site was shut down after using a 'copyrighted' image of 31 shot mike..the photographer from Ny Post wanted money and we said look we'll remove the image we have no cash but then he contacted our webhost to say he disagreed with our politics and like that the site was gone..we've set up another here for now