2006_11_grates.jpgYesterday, the police arrested four people while trying to locate the "fourth man" allegedly at the scene of a fatal police shooting. Marijuana and a loaded gun unconnected to the shooting were seized as well.

The undercover officers involved in the confrontation outside a Queens strip club say a fourth man wearing a beige jacket was seen leaving or near a car carrying Sean Bell, Joseph Guzman, and Trent Benefield; the police had fired upon the car, killing Bell and injuring Guzman and Benefield. Police Commissioner said that raids in the community were necessary: "The existence of a fourth person is important to this investigation."

The community, though, questions whether there ever was a fourth man (who police thought was carrying a gun) and are angry over the NYPD's tactics in trying to locate the fourth man. Residents say they are being harassed and that the police are trying to blame them. Here's the Daily News on the raid where four people were arrested:

Cops conducted the first raid at 6 a.m. Wednesday at the Baisley Park Houses in Jamaica, taking four people into custody. A loaded 9-mm. handgun and a small amount of marijuana were recovered in an apartment, which sources called a known drug-dealing location.

Three men in the home were charged with criminal possession of a weapon - the 9-mm. handgun, which police said had no link to Saturday's shooting.

One of those rousted, LaToya Smith, 26, who was not charged, said cops didn't ask her anything about the gun. She said they questioned her about Bell's pals and told her, "If you don't tell us what we want to hear, you know, you can get five years."

And one of the other people taken in for police custody, Erskine Williams Jr. (whose father Bishop Erskine Williams Sr. is Benefield's spokesman) said, "They're doing anything to get their case. They have to admit they f- - -ed up."

We're not surprised the police are putting the screws to find answers- they really need to find that fourth man. If he even exists. The lawyer for Guzman and Benefield told reporters, "The concept of a fourth man is a myth, created by whoever for whatever spin." Like everyone else, we're curious about the witnesses who also saw the man in the beige coat.

The Daily News' Juan Gonzalez has a column about the raids: The NYPD will not encourage any witnesses to come forward by breaking down doors in the black community. Commissioner Kelly is going to review undercover operations procedures. And tonight is Bell's funeral at Community Church of Christ in Jamaica. Mayor Bloomberg is not attending, at the family's wishes not to create a media frenzy, though Deputy Mayor Derek Walcott will be attending (he lives in the neighborhood). The Post reported that rapper Nas and basketball player Chris Webber offered to pay for the funeral, but the NAACP is covering the cost, so Nas and Webber will be contributing to a scholarship fund for Bell's children.

Bell was shot a few hours before his wedding.