A day after federal investigators announced that there is "insufficient evidence" to pursue a civil rights case against the officers who shot and killed Sean Bell, relatives of the 23-year-old said they are after the officers' badges. "Myself and my family are going to do everything possible to see that these police officers are fired," said Bell's fiancee, Nicole Paultre-Bell. "There is a history of black men being killed by police officers, and something needs to be done ... We're hoping to eventually meet with President Obama, and that he'll do something, because this is a national problem."
Following the acquittal of three officers involved in the 50-shot barrage that claimed Bell's life outside a Queens strip club on the day of his wedding, the victim's friends and family pushed for a federal civil rights trial. But according to Bell's father, William, prosecutors felt they "were limited by statutes and evidence." He told the Daily News: "My son's dead, and they can't do anything about it. He can't even rest in peace."
The Justice Department released a statement published in the Post noting it decided against pressing charges because "[p]rosecutors must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a law-enforcement officer willfully deprived an individual of a constitutional right, meaning with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids ... Neither accident, mistake, fear, negligence, nor bad judgment is sufficient to establish a federal criminal civil rights violation." The president of the Detectives' Endowment Association said he was "gratified" by the decision.
Bell's family and the other victims of the shooting intend to launch a civil lawsuit. Seven officers—including four of the five who shot at Bell's vehicle—still face an internal police department review, according to the Times. All but one of them remain on desk duty without guns or shields, and if they are found guilty of breaking departmental rules they could be fired.