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Sean Bell Verdict

Was the Sean Bell Verdict Justice Served?

As we reported this morning, the three New York City police officers charged in the 50-bullet shooting death of an unarmed black man, Sean Bell, have just been found innocent of all charges.

In the November 2006 incident Bell, 23, was shot along with two friends after his bachelor party at a strip club. The judge in the case cleared two officers of manslaughter and other charges and a third of reckless endangerment in the death.

Following the reading of the verdict this morning, passionate responses on both sides broke out. Some supporters of Bell stormed out of the courtroom, followed by screams in the hallway moments later. The three detectives — Gescard F. Isnora, Michael Oliver, and Marc Cooper — were escorted out of a side doorway, and outside a huge crowd gathered among a throng of police officers.

The defendants waived their right to a jury, leaving the decision to the judge. He said in his verdict, “the police response with respect to each defendant was not found to be criminal. The people have not proved beyond a reasonable doubt” that each defendant was not justified in shooting.

New York Mayor Michael 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. 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. There will be opportunities for peaceful dissent and potentially for further legal recourse — those are the rights we enjoy in a democratic nation. We don’t expect violence or law breaking, nor is there any place for it.

Is Bloomberg right? Was the case fairly decided by the judge? Will any dissent to the verdict remain peaceful?

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scooby scooby 8 years
I think that i agree with rac. my feelings on this is of rage. i mean and innocent person was killed, for no reason at all really. there is no reason that the officers ahd to shoot 50 times, and they almost shot innocent bystanders. i knew thtey would gt off by having a judge and not a jury. it isnt right at all to have shot an unarmed man, drunk or not. he didnt deserve to die.
scooby scooby 8 years
Marineharper:well i dont knwo where your from but police officers from PA,are required to be qualified to shoot their fire arm. As far as their guns being cheap, over 75 percent use glocks, which is one of the top guns made and arent cheap. Plus saying most police officers cant shoot worth crap is a very ignorant statement. learn your facts.
scooby scooby 8 years
Marineharper: well i dont knwo where your from but police officers from PA,are required to be qualified to shoot their fire arm. As far as their guns being cheap, over 75 percent use glocks, which is one of the top guns made and arent cheap. Plus saying most police officers cant shoot worth crap is a very ignorant statement. learn your facts.
pvellozzi82 pvellozzi82 8 years
Good points Janelloyd20
pvellozzi82 pvellozzi82 8 years
Good points Janelloyd20
pvellozzi82 pvellozzi82 8 years
I agree with you marine, my husband is a detective and if he was in a situation where he felt threatned for his life I would want him to do anything in his power to stay alive or help his fellow officers. But 50 shots is a bit excessive.I believe some of the officers belived that they were being shot at: Photographs shown in court Monday were used to demonstrate what Detective Mike Oliver might have seen when a member of his team, Gescard Isnora, fired the first bullet at Sean Bell's car – glass spraying out toward the shooter, which defense attorneys say could have led Oliver to believe someone inside the car was shooting out. "The scientific evidence proves that when the shots are fired into the auto glass it certainly gives the impression to the officers in this case that the shots were coming back at them,”
pvellozzi82 pvellozzi82 8 years
I agree with you marine, my husband is a detective and if he was in a situation where he felt threatned for his life I would want him to do anything in his power to stay alive or help his fellow officers. But 50 shots is a bit excessive. I believe some of the officers belived that they were being shot at: Photographs shown in court Monday were used to demonstrate what Detective Mike Oliver might have seen when a member of his team, Gescard Isnora, fired the first bullet at Sean Bell's car – glass spraying out toward the shooter, which defense attorneys say could have led Oliver to believe someone inside the car was shooting out. "The scientific evidence proves that when the shots are fired into the auto glass it certainly gives the impression to the officers in this case that the shots were coming back at them,”
m1225 m1225 8 years
This was a justice system FAIL.Fifty shots was excessive and the police officers should have been found guilty.What a travesty.
m1225 m1225 8 years
This was a justice system FAIL. Fifty shots was excessive and the police officers should have been found guilty. What a travesty.
tuscanstellina tuscanstellina 8 years
It seems as if both sides were irresponsible.
hausfrau hausfrau 8 years
i think i choose option 3
hausfrau hausfrau 8 years
i think i choose option 3
Janelloyd20 Janelloyd20 8 years
Exactly as Jenn said. The fact is, Michael wasn't proud over what happened. He was firing to stop a car and do what he thought was right. Was it the right choice? Who really knows. Its hard to say what we would do in that situation. Time slows up and panic sets in and its very unlikely most of us would make the "right" choice. At the time they did what they thought was best but it probably wasn't best. I don't believe the police are always right, in fact the majority seem to be kind of jerks but in a situation like that I guess we can all only do what we think is best.
Kimpossible Kimpossible 8 years
thank you for pointing that out Jenn (your last post).
jennifer76 jennifer76 8 years
I just want to set one other thing straight here. A number of commenters on this thread appear to believe that there are only two options here: 1.) the police were right and good and sucks to be Sean Bell or 2.) the police fucked everything up and belong in jail. There are completely valid third and fourth options here - 3.) the police did the best they could with the information they had and the results were tragic and 4.) the police made the wrong judgment, the results were tragic but their actions weren't <em>criminal</em> and they should be dealt with by the department not the courts.
jennifer76 jennifer76 8 years
I just want to set one other thing straight here. A number of commenters on this thread appear to believe that there are only two options here: 1.) the police were right and good and sucks to be Sean Bell or 2.) the police fucked everything up and belong in jail. There are completely valid third and fourth options here - 3.) the police did the best they could with the information they had and the results were tragic and 4.) the police made the wrong judgment, the results were tragic but their actions weren't criminal and they should be dealt with by the department not the courts.
jennifer76 jennifer76 8 years
"I like your second point too Jen, isn't innocent until PROVEN guilty such an awful idea? I mean when, WHEN will we repeal that!" I was referring to that Jen, with the OJ comparison, because it suggests there's no room for dissatisfaction with any verdict. I don't believe it does suggest that. I disagreed with msdyanelk's claim that this sentence - "The people have not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that each defendant was not justified in shooting". - "rendered how this case went down in the defendants favor from the word GO". It is always the people's burden to prove their case, and the fact that that held true in this case didn't imply that the defendants had the upper hand. I never said or implied that simply because they were found not guilty meant they were not guilty. Yes hon, I am aware that this wasn't a man standing on his own two legs... but you're trying to leave out facts that went before the car moving and the guns firing - the details and questions that make this an awful tragedy that may have been averted by, if nothing else, more careful police conduct. That is absolutely not true. Whether or not the police were justified is debatable. Whether or not they stuck to proper procedure is debatable. Whether or not Sean Bell and company's actions were legal or reasonable is debatable. What is NOT debatable are the facts. Perverting the facts to make statements like "firing a hail of 50 bullets at an unarmed civilian" when the actual facts are "a hail of 50 bullets at a speeding car holding several civilians that had already taken down one undercover officer" is not debating. And I'm nitpicky and I will call a sister on that. 8)
jennifer76 jennifer76 8 years
<em>"I like your second point too Jen, isn't innocent until PROVEN guilty such an awful idea? I mean when, WHEN will we repeal that!"I was referring to that Jen, with the OJ comparison, because it suggests there's no room for dissatisfaction with any verdict.</em>I don't believe it does suggest that. I disagreed with msdyanelk's claim that this sentence - <em>"The people have not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that each defendant was not justified in shooting". </em> - <em>"rendered how this case went down in the defendants favor from the word GO"</em>. It is always the people's burden to prove their case, and the fact that that held true in this case didn't imply that the defendants had the upper hand.I never said or implied that simply because they were found not guilty meant they <em>were</em> not guilty.<em>Yes hon, I am aware that this wasn't a man standing on his own two legs... but you're trying to leave out facts that went before the car moving and the guns firing - the details and questions that make this an awful tragedy that may have been averted by, if nothing else, more careful police conduct.</em>That is absolutely not true. Whether or not the police were justified is debatable. Whether or not they stuck to proper procedure is debatable. Whether or not Sean Bell and company's actions were legal or reasonable is debatable. What is NOT debatable are the facts. Perverting the facts to make statements like "firing a hail of 50 bullets at an unarmed civilian" when the actual facts are "a hail of 50 bullets at a speeding car holding several civilians that had already taken down one undercover officer" is not debating. And I'm nitpicky and I will call a sister on that. 8)
stephley stephley 8 years
"I like your second point too Jen, isn't innocent until PROVEN guilty such an awful idea? I mean when, WHEN will we repeal that!" I was referring to that Jen, with the OJ comparison, because it suggests there's no room for dissatisfaction with any verdict. Yes hon, I am aware that this wasn't a man standing on his own two legs... but you're trying to leave out facts that went before the car moving and the guns firing - the details and questions that make this an awful tragedy that may have been averted by, if nothing else, more careful police conduct. Because while not every civilian carries a gun, police officers do, and as the police officer is on the job to uphold the law and protect the citizenry, shooting and killing an unarmed civilian is a serious mistake. And its a history of behavior that makes people consider race an issue in police matters.
stephley stephley 8 years
"I like your second point too Jen, isn't innocent until PROVEN guilty such an awful idea? I mean when, WHEN will we repeal that!"I was referring to that Jen, with the OJ comparison, because it suggests there's no room for dissatisfaction with any verdict.Yes hon, I am aware that this wasn't a man standing on his own two legs... but you're trying to leave out facts that went before the car moving and the guns firing - the details and questions that make this an awful tragedy that may have been averted by, if nothing else, more careful police conduct. Because while not every civilian carries a gun, police officers do, and as the police officer is on the job to uphold the law and protect the citizenry, shooting and killing an unarmed civilian is a serious mistake. And its a history of behavior that makes people consider race an issue in police matters.
jennifer76 jennifer76 8 years
Once again, not following your logic here, Stephley. Because I don't believe the "innocent until proven guilty" premise of our justice system should be subverted in cases where I think the defendant is guilty, I must therefore approve of any and all verdicts ever passed...? Excessive force is excessive force, whether 50 bullets fired in the direction of an unarmed man all hit his body or not. You are aware that this was not an individual man standing on his own two legs in the middle of a hail of police bullets, right...? When you say firing "a hail of 50 bullets at an unarmed civilian" and the actual facts are "a hail of 50 bullets at a speeding car holding several civilians that had already taken down one undercover officer", then my response is "so the facts are irrelevant?"
jennifer76 jennifer76 8 years
Once again, not following your logic here, Stephley. Because I don't believe the "innocent until proven guilty" premise of our justice system should be subverted in cases where I think the defendant is guilty, I must therefore approve of any and all verdicts ever passed...?<em>Excessive force is excessive force, whether 50 bullets fired in the direction of an unarmed man all hit his body or not.</em>You are aware that this was not an individual man standing on his own two legs in the middle of a hail of police bullets, right...? When you say firing "a hail of 50 bullets at an unarmed civilian" and the actual facts are "a hail of 50 bullets at a speeding car holding several civilians that had already taken down one undercover officer", then my response is "so the facts are irrelevant?"
hausfrau hausfrau 8 years
I can't speak for Jen, all I'm saying is that an argument not based on fact is not an argument.
stephley stephley 8 years
So Jennifer and Cab, guess you both were satisfied with the OJ verdict too, and you see him as an innocent man today, Excessive force is excessive force, whether 50 bullets fired in the direction of an unarmed man all hit his body or not.
stephley stephley 8 years
So Jennifer and Cab, guess you both were satisfied with the OJ verdict too, and you see him as an innocent man today,Excessive force is excessive force, whether 50 bullets fired in the direction of an unarmed man all hit his body or not.
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