Three Detectives Acquitted in Sean Bell Shooting Death
Posted Apr 25, 2008 7:44 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Updated: Three New York detectives have been acquitted of all charges in the shooting death of Sean Bell outside a Queens nightclub.
Several of Bell’s supporters stormed out of the courtroom after the verdict and screams could be heard in courthouse hallways, the New York Times reports.
Police shot Bell, an unarmed black man, 50 times as he was leaving his bachelor party, the Associated Press reports. The detectives waived their right to a jury and a judge issued the verdict, finding the shooting was justified, the Times Ledger reports. The officers claimed they feared they were about to be shot.
Bell’s friends had testified police didn’t identify themselves when they walked up to Bell’s car with guns drawn. Police differed with that account.
Two of the officers were charged with manslaughter, assault and reckless endangerment; a third was accused of reckless endangerment, the New York Daily News reports.
New York City police were on alert for possible protests or rioting, ABAJournal.com noted yesterday. The Times' CityRoom blog said that by 9:30 a.m. ET, supporters outside the courthouse were blocking traffic as they awaited the arrival of the Rev. Al Sharpton. But Sharpton left the courthouse shortly after 10 a.m. without making a statement. By 11 a.m., the crowd had "all but dispersed."
Updated at 12:24 p.m. CT to reflect the changing scene outside the courthouse.