Posted by: vote4claxton | January 22, 2007


Grand jury convenes in fatal cop shooting

Monday, January 22, 2007 | 4:21 PM

Protestors want justice for Sean Bell, killed on his wedding day after cops fired 50 shots

A grand jury began hearing testimony today in the deadly police shooting of Sean Bell and the wounding of his two friends. Bell was killed hours before his wedding, when undercover officers fired 50 shots outside a strip club in Jamaica.

Eyewitness News reporter Lisa Colagrossi is live outside Queens Criminal Court House in Kew Gardens with the latest.

The grand jury will hear evidence and testimony regarding this high profile case where a groom was killed on his wedding day. And today, supporters from Sean Bell’s family are out in full force.

Wearing vests with Sean Bell’s picture on it and 50 bullet holes around it, protestors marched in front of Queens Criminal court.

David Short, Protestor: “We’ve been there 22 days, we’ve been there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, after work, after school, after play. We asking everybody to come out, it’s only for justice, we don’t care about the color or nothing like that. We asking for justice to be served.”

It’s been two months since that police shooting touched off massive protests and a massive investigation. Now, the case is set to take a leap forward, with a grand jury and prosecutors ready to call witnesses.

Sean Bell died on a Jamaica street last November, killed after a bachelor party at Kalua Cabaret, just hours before his wedding.

Five police officers fired 50 bullets.

Those officers include:


  1. Det. Paul Headley
  2. Det. Marc Cooper
  3. Det. Michael Oiver
  4. Officer Michael Carey
  5. The fifth officer works undercover

The four officers have given their account of the night to prosecutors. One reportedly has not.

Detective Michael Oliver is said to have fired 31 bullets, including the rounds which killed Bell. It’s not clear if any of the officers will testify before the grand jury, but Bell’s two friends are ready.

Sanford Rubenstein, Victim’s Attorney: “Trent Benefield and Joe Guzman, are two innocent victims who live to tell what happened, are ready, willing and able to testify.

Attorney Sanford Rubenstein represents all the victims:


  • Joseph Guzman — hit by 16 bullets and still in the hospital
  • Trent Benefield — who now walks with a crutch
  • Nicole Paultre — whose fiance is dead.Lawyers say the officers mistakenly thought Bell and his friends had gone to his car to get a gun. The team now faces the threat of criminal prosecution for shooting three unarmed men.Mike Palladino, Pres. Detectives’ Endowment association: “The police, although this was tragic event, acted justifiably and reasonably.”It takes just 13 of the 24 people on the grand jury to vote for an indictment. The grand jury is expected to take at least a month before the five officers learn whether they will face a criminal trial.

    Marquez Claxton, 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care: “These activities will clearly indicate there is a need for independent outside investigation and prosecution of this case.”

    The attorney for the families involved will be sending a letter to Gov. Eliot Spitzer making the request for a special prosecutor.

    (Copyright ©2008 WABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
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