At 7AM, the three detectives indicted in the shooting of Sean Bell last November turned themselves. WNBC reports that Michael Oliver, Gescard Isnora, and Marc Cooper will be fingerprinted and processed before their arraignment this afternoon.
The grand jury came to a decision last Friday, but said it would wait until today to make the official announcement. However, news of the indictments got out when defense lawyers for the cops involved found out whether their clients were required to surrender today. It's believed that Oliver and Isnora, who fired 31 and 11 times respectively, will face manslaughter charges while Cooper will face reckless endangerment charges. A total of 50 shots were fired at Bell and his friends Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield outside a Queens night club where the police had been conducting an undercover operation. All three men were unarmed, and Bell was killed.
The NY Sun spoke to professor Eli Silverman at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who said, "I guess you could say the indictment was a prologue and the announcement is the beginning of the first act … The public is going to get the case of characters on all sides." The Reverend Al Sharpton said that Guzman and Benefield are getting ready for the trial and warned that the defense lawyers would try to make them look bad.
And even police insiders are upset at Oliver's $4,200 dinner Saturday night. Even though a friend paid for the meal, one police union source told the Daily News, "He just got himself convicted. We have to rein him in before he gets the other guys convicted, too. It's all about perception."
Update: The indictment was unsealed, and there will be a lot of jail time for Oliver and Isnora, if found guilty. (You can read the charges after the jump.) The Reverend Al Sharpton, who appeared outside the Queens County Courthouse with Bell's family, said the charges should have gone further: "There clearly was evidence to warrant murder and attempted murder." He also said, "All officers in fact shot. All officers in fact should have been charged. All officers acted in concert." The Politicker also notes that Sharpton thinks a trial held outside of Queens County would "insulting" and "We will not participate, attend or cooperate" if it is held somewhere else.
Queens DA Richard Brown said, "I want to commend the prosecutors and investigators from my office who have worked on this case since its inception. They are to be commended for their dedication, their thoroughness, their impartiality -- and, most of all for their professionalism."
Photograph of Sharpton surrounded by Bell's mother, fiancee, and friends by Mary Altaffer/AP
Detective Michael Oliver:
-- One count of first-degree manslaughter (accused of causing the death of Bell while intending to seriously injure his friend Joseph Guzman). Five to 25 years in prison if convicted. Some jail time is mandatory.
-- One count of second-degree manslaughter (accused of recklessly causing Bell's death while aiding fellow detective Gerald Isnora). A minimum of one to three years in prison and a maximum of five to 15 years if convicted. Prison time in not mandatory.
-- Two counts of first-degree assault (accused of intentionally and seriously injuring Guzman and Trent Benefield). A felony that carries a five-to-25-year sentence. Some jail time is mandatory.
-- Two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment (accused of discharging gun multiple times on a street with people present, and of shooting gun through the window of a nearby home). One-year prison sentence, but is not mandatory.
Detective Gescard Isnora:
-- One count of first-degree manslaughter (accused of causing Bell's death while intending to seriously injure Guzman). Five to 25 years in prison if convicted. Some jail time is mandatory.
-- One count of second-degree manslaughter (accused of recklessly causing the death of Bell while aiding Oliver). A minimum of one to three years in prison and a maximum of five to 15 years if convicted. Prison time in not mandatory.
-- One count of first-degree assault (accused of intentionally and seriously injuring Guzman). A violent felony that carries a five-to-25-year sentence. Some jail time is mandatory.
-- One count second-degree assault (accused of recklessly injuring Trent Benefield). Two to seven years in prison if convicted. Some jail time is mandatory.
-- One count of second-degree reckless endangerment (accused of discharging gun multiple times on street with people present). One-year sentence if convicted, but is not mandatory.
Detective Marc Cooper:
-- Two counts second-degree reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor (accused of discharging gun multiple times on street with people present, and for shooting a gun at an occupied AirTrain station). Up to one year behind bars, but not mandatory.