Update: The NYPD will have to be on alert
on Monday now? Earlier, WNBC reported that the grand jury investigating the fatal police shooting of Sean Bell has reached a verdict but will wait until Monday to release it. But now a defense lawyer says the jury voted to indict three of the detectives involved: Michael Oliver who fired 31 shots, Gescard F. Isnora who fired the first of 11 shots, and Marc Cooper. Cooper's lawyer Paul Martin said, "I am disappointed with the grand jury’s decision but this is just the first stage of a long process and I am confident that once all the facts are considered by a jury of Detective Cooper’s peers, that he will be exonerated of all charges."
Update: Here's video of the Reverend Al Sharpton's comments about the possible indictments. Here's some of his remarks:
One of the ugliest things that occured was the killing of those two auxiliary police officers the other night. But it was just as ugly for the police to break the law and kill Sean Bell. We've got to have one standard of law and one standard of enforcement. We hope this grand jury brought us closer to that enforcement. We don't know. We're determined not to stop until we have a city and a nation that has one law for everybody.
This comes the day after the grand jury's deliberations were interrupted by testimony from the last-minute witness. The witness, a Spanish-speaking janitor whose timing seemed to be all too convenient for the NYPD, testified that he saw a fourth man fire a gun at police. And he also said the undercover officer identified themselves as police to Bell and his friends. (Bell, Joseph Guzman, and Trent Benefield were all unarmed when the police shot at them 50 times.) The boss of a witness, who works for an AirTrain contractor, apparently told him not to get involved. A Daily News source deemed the witness "a waste of time."
Still, his sudden appearance caused community leaders already suspicious of the Queens DA's investigation to speak out angrily. State Senator Malcolm Smith said, "I think at this point the community is very concerned." The Reverend Al Sharpton said, "This story, as told, smells" and renewed calls for a special prosecutor. But Newsday had this quote from Detectives' Endowment Association president Michael Palladino said, "The mere fact that a pro-police witness comes forward, why does that trigger the need for a special prosecutor? If [the Rev. Al] Sharpton had an anti-police witness that was denied access to the grand jury, he would be marching from now till kingdom come."
And Guzman, who spent many months in the hospital after the shooting, said he wouldn't cooperate with prosecutors if only one police officer is indicted.
Photograph of a sign outside the Queens building where the grand jury has been meeting by Frank Franklin II/AP