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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 71/No. 13      April 2, 2007

‘Convict all five cops
who killed Sean Bell!’
Say protesters after 3 N.Y. cops indicted
(lead article)
Militant/Willie Cotton
March 20 protest at Manhattan’s Union Square demanding prosecution of all five cops who killed Sean Bell, a young African American worker, in a hail of 50 bullets.

NEW YORK, March 20—Three of the five cops responsible for the November 25 shooting death of an unarmed Black man surrendered here yesterday after being indicted on charges ranging from first-degree manslaughter to reckless endangerment.

About 120 people rallied in Manhattan today to demand justice for Sean Bell, 23, who was killed in a hail of 50 police bullets as he left the Queens nightclub where he had celebrated his bachelor party. Many protestors demanded indictments and convictions for all of the cops involved.

"All five should be indicted on murder one," B.M. Marcus, a small business owner from Brooklyn whose nephew was killed by the cops in 1998, told the Militant. Speakers at the rally called for a special prosecutor and demanded the trial be held in a Queens court.

The indictments were unsealed two days after a similar rally of 100 in Manhattan's Union Square, one in a string of protests demanding justice in the case since last November.

As a Queens grand jury convened last week, New York police chief Raymond Kelly mobilized 1,700 cops, saying they were "available if we want to deploy them" to put down unrest.

Five undercover cops gunned down Bell and his two friends, Trent Benefield, 23, and Joseph Guzman, 31, as the three sat in Bell's car outside a Jamaica, Queens, nightclub. Both Benefield and Guzman were seriously wounded.

Queens Attorney General Richard Brown announced at a March 19 press conference that detectives Gerscard Isnora, who fired 11 times, and Michael Oliver, who fired 31 times, stopping to reload his gun, were indicted on charges including first and second degree manslaughter. They could serve up to 25 years in prison if convicted. Marc Cooper, who fired four shots, faces charges of reckless endangerment for firing a bullet that passed "through a window of an occupied AirTrain Station." The misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of one year.

Cops Michael Carey, who fired three times, and Paul Headley, who fired once, will not face any charges. The two have been placed on desk duty.

At a March 19 press conference in Harlem, Democratic Party politician Reverend Alfred Sharpton said the indictments "fall short."

"Although some people will be disappointed in the grand jury's decision, we have to respect the results of our justice system," said New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

But many working people in this city are expressing a different opinion.

"The system is not going to give us any justice; we have to get it on our own," Nicholas Haywood, whose son was killed by the police 13 years ago, told the crowd at the March 17 action. Other speakers at the action called for Kelly's resignation and community control of the police. "I think they are setting this up for an acquittal," city councilman Charles Barron, a Democrat, told the crowd.

Michael Hardy, an attorney for Benefield and Guzman, predicted it will be a least a year before the cops go on trial.

Sarah Katz contributed to this article.
Related articles:
Jail 5 cops who killed Sean Bell!

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