The City Council questioned Police Commissioner Ray Kelly about NYPD tactics in the wake of the fatal shooting of Sean Bell. The Council was aggressive and straightforward; for instance, Councilman David Yassky said , "Too many African-American New Yorkers feel that they are at risk or that their family members are at risk of mistreatment, whether it be to be stopped without reason or to be victimized by excessive force."

Councilman Charles Barron asked Kelly to resign: "I ask that you do the graceful thing and resign; I say that because you have allowed this to happen." In fact, Kelly and Barron got into a heated exchange. From the Daily News:

Kelly bristled as Barron blasted the NYPD's recent decision to suspend a white cop for 30 days as punishment for the 2004 fatal shooting of Timothy Stansbury, an unarmed black teenager.

Stansbury's death was ruled an accident, but yesterday Barron seethed, "It was a cold-blooded killing."

That accusation prompted Kelly to fume, "Oh, come on, come on! How do you know that?"

Barron, a former Black Panther, refused to back down, saying incidents like the Stansbury and Bell shootings are "why people disrespect and don't trust the police force."

"There's no doubt that you'll never trust the police force," Kelly responded.


Commissioner Kelly refuted claims that the NYPD used racially profiling, saying, "Officers are stopping those they reasonably suspect of committing a crime, based on descriptions and circumstances, and not on personal bias." He also noted how diverse NYPD recruiting has become. The NY Sun reported Councilwoman Helen Foster said, "This is real. So when you say that this is not racially motivated … it doesn't matter because you're not the person being racially profiled." This hearing was the first of three scheduled hearings to discuss NYPD practices.

And Joseph Guzman, one of two friends in the car with Bell during the shooting, was finally released from Jamaica Hospital. He had been in the hospital since the November shooting and still has six bullets in him.

Guzman, wearing a hoodie with "Sean Bell" written on it, said that when they were approached by the undercover police that night, they thought they were being robbed. "I don't hate the police. We need the police to make things right. But what they did that night was murder....I’m not anti-police; I don’t believe all police are bad. But the police that night were wrong. They committed a crime. Let them be accountable for it."

Photograph of Joseph Guzman being helped by friends like the Reverend Al Sharpton by Frank Franklin II