The NYPD released photographs of four of the five police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Sean Bell last November. The NY Times says the photos were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request (the photograph of the fifth officer, the one who fired the first shot, was not released, due to his undercover status). This gave Detectives' Endowment Association president Michael J. Palladino opportunity to say, "The photos of the officers indicate that racism had absolutely nothing to do with this shooting. The photos nullify the racism aspect of the shooting because at least three of the five officers are people of color.”
Yesterday, a grand jury in Queens began to hear evidence to decide if the officers should be charged with a crime. The evidence will take weeks to get through, and the lawyer representing Bell's parents, Nelson Mitchell, complained, "Prosecution of this case is flawed. It's already taken two months, and it's going to take an additional month to present evidence to the grand jury. This investigation seems to be an investigation for exoneration." However, Queens DA Richard Brown responded, "Our presentation will take as long as necessary to assure a thorough and complete presentment of the facts and the law."
Bell was being feted by friends with a bachelor party the night before his wedding. When Bell and friends Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield entered their car, a chaotic series of events led to Bell, Guzman and Benefield being fired upon 50 times by undercover police. Bell died while Guzman and Benefield were wounded. Outside the courthouse, a group of Bell's friends and family has started a vigil. Bell's uncle Al Walker told the Sun, "We are here to make sure Sean Bell never gets out of the eye of the public so that this never happens again to anybody's family."
Four of the five police officers who shot at Bell, Guzman and Benefield, from left to right, Michael Carey, Paul Headley, Marc Cooper and Michael Oliver (Oliver is the cop who allegedly fired 31 times)