The fiancee of Sean Bell officially changed her surname to "Bell". Nicole Paultre was supposed to marry Bell on November 25, but Bell was killed when police opened fire on him and two friends after his bachelor party. Paultre revealed that a civil court judge signed an order for Paultre to change her name to Nicole Paultre Bell in an exclusive interview with Essence.com.
ESSENCE: How does it feel to suddenly become the face of the police brutality issue?
Nicole: I don’t think it’s really hit me. I see these things on TV, and we all know it’s wrong, but I never thought it would hit home in my life. I get a lot of support from strangers, and my family is 100 percent there for me. Famous people that I never thought I’d meet have contacted me through my attorney Sanford Rubenstein and Al Sharpton. I talked to Spike Lee just the other night. Hillary Clinton—I spoke with her and Mayor Bloomberg. Everyone sends their condolences and love. It’s very comforting to know that people care, people that don’t even know him. It helps. They give me strength. I also find strength in church and God.
ESSENCE: Many people were surprised to hear you say in the Larry King interview that you’re not angry. Can you explain?
Nicole: I’m not angry with the entire department. It’s not the department that did this. It’s those five police officers; it’s them that need to be held accountable. A lot of people ask me about my saying I’m not angry, but they don’t understand that I have to focus my energy on other things besides anger.
Paultre's lawyer revealed that the wedding rings Bell had in the car were retrieved with the help of the Queens DA's office (Bell was buried with his ring, Paultre wears hers).
am New York had some thought-provoking statistics about police shootings: In NYC, 11 people (including Sean Bell) were killed (and 31 people have been hit by police bullets); the NYPD has 35,000 officers. And that's lower than in Las Vegas, where 12 people were killed by the 2,100-officer LVPD and in Philadelphia, where 19 people have been killed (the PPD has 6,600 officers). While the statistics show that police shootings are steady, it would be helpful and more enlightening for the NYPD to reveal how many times the police have fired their weapons.
- The NY Sun has an extensive article about Bell and his life beyond the night of November 25; for instance, he was once a top-ranked high school baseball player in the North East and met Mayor Giuliani in 1999.
- The NYPD has turned over the ballistics report to the Queens DA's office.
- And one of the witnesses to the shooting was arrested for disorderly conduct. Lorenzo Kinred was later released, but his lawyer criticized the police for being uncooperative as Kinred was being processed.
Photograph of the makeshift memorial outside the Kalua Lounge where the shooting took place by Adam Rountree/AP