Detectives Michael Oliver, Gescard Isnora and Marc Cooper, who were acquitted of all charges in the Sean Bell shooting trial, spoke at a press conference this afternoon. Detectives Oliver and Isnora thanked Judge Cooperman for his "fair" decision (Isnora also, per City Room, "thanked God, his family, his lawyers"). Detective Cooper, who was only charged with reckless endangerment, said, "I'd like to say sorry to the Bell family for the tragedy." None of the detectives testified during the trial, as their grand jury testimony had been read aloud by the prosecution.
However, the verdict was denounced by the Reverend Al Sharpton, who said, "This verdict is one round down, but the fight is far from over. What we saw in court today was not a miscarriage of justice. Justice didn't miscarry. This was an abortion of justice."
Mayor Bloomberg said, "There are no winners in a trial like this. An innocent man lost his life, a bride lost her groom, two daughters lost their father, and a mother and a father lost their son. No verdict could ever end the grief that those who knew and loved Sean Bell suffer. Judge Cooperman’s responsibility, however, was to decide the case based on the evidence presented in the courtroom. America is a nation of laws, and though not everyone will agree with the verdicts and opinions issued by the courts, we accept their authority." You can read the full text of Cooperman's remarks here.
Here are some other reactions:
- "Today's verdict should be bitterly disappointing to every New Yorker of goodwill. Justice Arthur Cooperman s decision clearly points the finger at the lackluster case presented by the Queens district attorney s office and it is also an indictment of New York City Police Department procedure, with respect to training and management." - City Councilman Leroy Comrie
- "An ugly pattern is emerging in New York. This was a massacre, this was not a shootout. And the U.S. attorney general must give America the assurance that we all have equal protection under the law. This is a travesty of justice today, but it is a pattern that deserves attention." - The Reverend Jesse Jackson
- "We ask people to be calm as they protest, if that's what they choose to do.... On the same token, though, we ask police to be calm as people protest.... We have not heard what these men did that caused police to act as though they were America's most wanted, yet still we hear a verdict of not guilty. We will go to the next level, whatever that might be, to seek justice." - Leroy Gadsden, president of NAACP's Jamaica, Queens branch
- "I am disappointed and absolutely stunned by today's verdict. This incident clearly involved an excessive use of force by the police. All New Yorkers should be similarly disappointed by today's decision." - City Comptroller William Thompson
- "We’re a nation of laws, so we respect the verdict that came down." - Barack Obama