Three detectives were charged in the November 2006 shooting of Sean Bell outside a Queens nightclub, and all three pleaded not guilty. Two of the police officers, Detectives Michael Oliver and Gescard Isnora, face serious charges that include first-degree and second-degree manslaughter (it was originally thought they would only face second-degree manslaughter), while Detective Marc Cooper faces charges of reckless endangerment. When asked how he would plea, Isnora's lawyer Philip Karasyk said, "Not guilty of each and every count of the indictment."
You can read the indictment here (PDF). Detectives Endowment Association president Michael Palladino called the indictment "excessive," but community leaders were unhappy. The Reverend Al Sharpton said that all five officers involved in the shooting should have been charged, and City Councilman Charles Barron said, "For all five [officers] not to be charged in concert is a real concern and for there to be no depraved indifference when you shoot 50 bullets makes no sense." Sharpton has said Bell's friends and fellow shooting victims Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield won't cooperate if the trial is moved out of Queens. What do you think?
Jimmy Breslin has a column for Newsday: He visits the Kalua Lounge, the club where Bell and his friends had been celebrating before the shooting, and then heads to court house to hear the verdict being read. And his thoughts on the judge, Arthur Cooper, who will preside over the trial:
He is a former state assemblyman from Queens and he has an effect on this case right away. No defendant being represented by a lawyer with his senses would take the case non-jury with Cooperman as the judge. Cooperman is a cannon so loose that Caribbean pirates wouldn't use him.
The Daily News says Cooperman "has a history of slamming cop haters."
Mayor Bloomberg's statement began, "After hearing the case presented by the Queens District Attorney, the Grand Jury has spoken. Although some people will be disappointed in the Grand Jury’s decision, we have to respect the result of our justice system" and included references to the dangers cops face and his meetings with community leaders. He concluded, "Nothing anyone can do will bring back Sean Bell. But we can resolve to learn what lessons we can from this tragedy.” And Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said that the NYPD was conducting an internal probe and, "Recognizing that the shooting death of an unarmed individual by police has exacerbated relations in the minority community, the Police Department will redouble its efforts to build the best possible relations with all of New York City's diverse communities."