Truth of Sean Bell Shooting

1_61_112606_groom_shoot1.jpgAfter reading many accounts of the Sean Bell incident, I have come to a few conclusions:

– First off, as usual, people are jumping to conclusions… The blame falls on Al Sharpton, who tends to jump on bandwaggons that will help to get his name in the paper.
– This Guzman fellow apparently announced he had a gun in the car, in front of an undercover officer… That is not only the testimony of the police, but also witnesses who were at the strip club when this all went down.


– Do people actually believe that these three/four guys had good intentions? They were all career criminals, with multiple drug and weapons violations on their rap sheets. There was drugs found near their car, which is believed to have been thrown out of the car when the cops announced themselves. These were not innocent, upstanding guys just out having a good time. They were screw-ups, and they were destined for trouble.
– Everyone is questioning whether the officers on the scene identified themselves as cops… These were all experienced officers. Do people really think these officers would put themselves in such a precarious position by not announcing they are cops? Plus, many witnesses say that the plainclothes officer was wearing his shield around his neck, and JUMPED ON THE HOOD OF THE CAR SCREAMING THAT HE WAS A COP and that Bell should stop the car and get out. Instead, he chose to floor it.
– How can racism be an issue. Of the five cops involved, 3 were minorities (two white cops, two black cops, and one Hispanic). So, if 60% of the involved officers were not white, how can this be an issue of white-on-black racism? Am I missing something here?
– Unless there is A LOT of information we don’t know, Bloomberg seems pretty spineless. It seems that all the evidence points to this being a clean defensive shooting… How can he accuse the cops of foul play? He lost a lot of friends in the public service sector, that is for sure.
People need to be responsible for themselves. If the guy had not tried to run down the cop… twice… he would have just been arrested and probably released again after a few hours (the inherent maladies of our justice system is a whole other post), but instead, he is dead. It is a shame that a life was lost, and I don’t believe he deserved to die, but defensive shooting is far from an exact science. If the guy didn’t want to take that gamble, he should not have floored it toward a cop. Furthermore, if I were staring down at a car zooming straight toward me, I would be pulling that trigger like a mad man.

I am not for police brutality, and I am certainly in favor of crack-downs and making sure that the right level of enforcement occurs and officers are trained properly. But, it seems that the public, spurned by the media, is screaming “abuse” when all of the facts and evidence point to the fact that there was no abuse. What am I missing?

[Photo courtesy FoxNews]

44 Comments so far

  1. Vinnie (unregistered) on December 19th, 2006 @ 10:41 am

    Interesting, this is the first I heard of this version. I am an occasional follower of local headlines and all I saw on the news was “death of an angel at the hands of evil/trigger-happy cops.”

  2. sara (unregistered) on December 19th, 2006 @ 2:10 pm

    I am so sick of the cries of ‘racism’ when something happens to a person of color. Isn’t it possible that a person gets shot because of REGULAR circumstances????? Why do we, as a society, allow garbage like this to even become newsworthy? I’m a teacher who recently took her elementary school class to see a play about children in the Holocaust. One of my black students did not come to school that day after telling her classmates the day before that she didn’t want to see some made-up story about how everyone should feel bad for white people; clearly a sentiment her mother has had some influence in creating. Why is nobody up in arms about this? You can bet that child will be the first on the bus when we go see a play about Harriet Tubman!!!

    Someone should kick Jesse Jackson’s soapbox out from underneath him.

  3. Neil (unregistered) on December 19th, 2006 @ 7:00 pm

    The facts are there so I don’t see how this can be a racial thing.
    Al Sharpton is a big scam artist who terrorizes whites and misleads blacks. The black community really needs a better leader or better yet no leader, perhaps people can individually make up their mind instead of a loudmouth telling them what to think.

    @Sara, that is quite sad.

  4. Mike (unregistered) on December 20th, 2006 @ 9:58 am

    What are you missing? The fact that it only takes a few shots to kill someone that’s not shooting back at you. Not racist? Fine. But does the debate on whether this was a racist act really supercede the one on whether these guys are responsible cops that we want looking out for us? Obviously, they’re not.

  5. Noah (unregistered) on December 20th, 2006 @ 10:12 am

    @Mike: The debate about racism was brought up by Sharpton and his minions. I was responding to that. But, if the question is about the responsibility of the cops, why do you feel that you wouldn’t want them looking out for you? Because they fired 10 shots each (avg)? Think about the situation. If you were there, you were led to believe there were guns in the car, the guy tries to hit you or a fellow officer with his car, and you shoot, but the car is still moving. You are hearing gunfire, but can’t tell where it is coming from (cops or bad guys). You would just tell everyone to hold your fire while you approach the vehicle?

    It is taking a leap to say that the amount of bullets was necessarily way overboard. It may have been, but considering there were lieutenants on the scene during the incident in addition to five veteran officers, and all are backing up the given story, I am loathe to assume fault.

  6. Mike (unregistered) on December 20th, 2006 @ 10:31 am

    They killed a guy. Personally, I like my cops not killing people. But that’s me.

  7. Noah (unregistered) on December 20th, 2006 @ 10:34 am

    Well that is where we differ.

  8. Tommyk (unregistered) on December 20th, 2006 @ 11:01 am

    These were such experienced cops that two of them who re-loaded their weapons don’t even remember firing a shot. These guys were super-cops. Regular Axel Foleys.

    Racism is of course a part of the equation because there are so few instances of white people getting shot over 40 times when they are not armed.

    As for drugs being a barometer for judging their character? AH, let he without sin cast the first stoner…

  9. Vinnie (unregistered) on December 22nd, 2006 @ 4:29 pm

    Hey Tommy K, seems like a great time to quote Jesus, as the perpetrators seemed like god fearing Christians…Drugs are absolutely a barometer for judgment, and we’re not talking about pseudo hippie wanna-bees at Colby College smoking pot and listening to Phish, these guys had 14 arrests between them, including drugs (2 drug arrests for Bell recently), ARMED robbery and assault (one had felony jail time), hardly the kind of sins your quote refers to. (I can see it now, “well, I since I drank underage in college, I really can’t look down on anyone robs 7-11’s with semi-automatic weapons.”) I’m afraid the evidence shows that drugs use and distribution are STRONGLY correlated to violent crime.

    This guy had no job, yet could afford a diamond ring for his fiancĂ©, a cruise and a car. Putting aside the obvious assumption about the origin of Bell’s money, at best his only crime (excluding the two prior arrests for drugs) was defrauding the IRS and New York State Tax Authority.

    There are many reasons for getting shot that don’t involve race. If we assume the White and Hispanic cops who fired shots were racist (as I am sure you have already), then we are left with 20 black on black gun shots. It’s hard for me to see this as racism when black cops account for 20 of the 50 bullets (40%). And unless these particular Black cops happen to hate Black people, then your argument for racism is at best only 40% wrong. Hypothetically would you be more comfortable with Sean Bell dead with 12 shots. Is it a horrible misunderstanding or racism if there were only 5 shots to his with the same consequences?

    Lets be fair here, where was the Jesse/Al outrage when a Black man executed a policeman? The outrage only came from anti-death penalty crusaders when he was executed for his crime.

    Where were the calls for racism when that nut job Colin Furgesun opened fire on the Long Island Rail Road and killed mainly white suburban commuters? Too bad for them, I guess they were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Imagine if it was a white guy (equally as crazy) who shot up a bus in a black area? I am sure he would have been racist first, crazy second…

  10. Johnny (unregistered) on December 27th, 2006 @ 9:40 pm

    I can not believe we have people living the U.S. that think the cops are never wrong. Did you not hear the part when the officers said they were running a sting operation at the club? This operation has been going on for months. At 2:00am how many drinks do you think the officers that were in the club had. IF they were there doing a sting on the club why would they pay close attention to a guy looking at his watch. When the cops could not get what they were looking for, I guess they had to get sombody. Why not pay attention to 3 well dressed guys that just left a strip club.

  11. Only (unregistered) on December 28th, 2006 @ 8:03 am

    What has their previous convictions got to do with anything??…….So because they’ve had run in’s with the law before that justifies them being shot at over 50 times? I don’t get how people can actually defend the police’s actions over this….There are conflicting reports about the event you say the undercover police officer jumped on the bonet of the car I have not read ANY report that suggested such a thing occured and I too have been following this case closely…..

    Also there was a train station just passed where the shooting occured one of the bullets flew into the window and narrowly missed an innocent bystander….Now explain seeing as the station was about 100 feet above the street where the shooting took place please explain how and why “trained” police officers managed to fire one shot so high up when that wasn’t even their intented target….

    People are trying to justify that this wasn’t a racist attack because some of the officers were black……To that I say……we are sometimes our own worst enemies….This would NEVER happen in a middle/upper class white neighbourhood and all of you know this…..and in the unlikely event of it happening…..EVERYONE involved from the bottom up would be fired already…..

    This has happened too many times for anyone to say this is a concidence…..This is a modern day sophisticated geneocide and black and hispanics are the victims….The saddest thing is that the people that are doing this are supposed to be the ones protecting us…..

  12. Vinnie (unregistered) on December 28th, 2006 @ 9:28 am

    Good One! It’s called a ricochet! You see bullets can bounce off the street, or metal on the car, or a lamp post and fly in another direction.

    Also, no one is saying that former arrests = deserve to get shot, but drugs and crime were a behaviour pattern for these guys and they were not hanging out at midnight mass. Who is more likely to commit crimes, observant christian college grad with a non-drug dealing career and no record, or these guys who have already been arrested 14 times????

    One more thing, street thugs tend not to hang out in middle class neighborhoods since nobody wants the drugs that these guys were probably selling. That behaviour is tolerated in New York City since we are too chicken to put Sean Bell away after the first TWO times he was arrested on drug charges. And if we were responsable citizens and did put him away, then he would be alive today.

  13. Vinnie (unregistered) on December 28th, 2006 @ 9:29 am

    By the way you are an idiot to suggest that because the cops were black that made them more inclined to shoot other black people.

  14. Lia (unregistered) on December 29th, 2006 @ 7:07 pm



  15. Noah (unregistered) on December 29th, 2006 @ 7:33 pm

    @Johnny: Where did you concede that I or any other responder thinks cops never do anything wrong? I can speak for myself and say that couldn’t be further from the truth. But to assume they were drunk is completely unfair. There is no evidence of that. Plus, from what I have read, only one of the officers was undercover, and the rest were outside. Second, they were paying close attention to the one guy because he announced he had a gun in his car and was going to get it. End of story.

    @Only: Yes, I agree that their previous convictions had nothing to do with it at the time because, as far as I know, the cops had no idea who they were until after the incident. However, in looking at the whole incident, the character of these men is very important to understand motives. Also, Vinny is right about the ricochet theory. Plus, if you are going to say that it wouldn’t happen in a white area, you must also concede that if 5 cops (2 black, 2 white, 1 Latin) shot 3 white kids, you would hear a lot about it, but nobody would accuse anyone of racism.

    @Lia: What exactly is your point? Are you saying that because the deceased happened to be black, it is the fault of the white community that they are dead? I am in favor of any community uniting when someone wrongs them, but this is not a racial issue, unless you are saying that the two black cops and the Latin cop were also racist. And I don’t know who you mean when you say that “Yal” had a problem with marches. I don’t take issue with any peaceful protests (though those mentioned were way before my time)… And I am in favor of leadership, but Sharpton is the bottom of the barrel when it comes to being a leader.

    I want to reiterate that I am not proclaiming the innocence of these five cops, but I am saying that it is important that for us to remember that everyone in this country is innocent until proven guilty. That is one of the pillars of our society. To condemn these five officers without a trial, based solely on passions (regardless of validity) is incorrect and unfair.

  16. Noah (unregistered) on January 2nd, 2007 @ 10:57 am
  17. tommyk (unregistered) on January 2nd, 2007 @ 11:07 am

    “Racism is of course a part of the equation because there are so few instances of white people getting shot over 40 times when they are not armed.”

    Vinni you are making a common mistake confusing racism with bigotry. Racism is a societal phenomenon that affects a group of people. It is about power- economic and judicial (restricting voting or education for example). So of course racism plays a part (Stress the word part) in this case, because the events that lead these cops to fire 50+ times were societal.

    Bigotry on the other hand is when you feel that another race has it better than you, or when you come up with extraneous examples of how black people are raising their kids to hate white people. In this case, you, like virtually all people on the planet, are a bigot, not a racist.

  18. Mike (unregistered) on January 2nd, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

    It’s just stupid and insensitive to spew on about whether or not this is racist. It undercuts the bigger issues. Newsflash Vincenzo – Minorities band together more than those in the majority. They have to. Just get over it. You guys make it seem like we are supposed to feel bad for white people everywhere, because minorities have this “advantage” of being able to play “the race card.” Give me a break.

  19. Noah (unregistered) on January 2nd, 2007 @ 4:00 pm

    @Mike It seems simple. The driver was drunk, and his passenger claimed to have a gun. When he drove directly at a cop, he got shot and killed. You make it seem like we are supposed to feel bad for the attempted murderer because he got shot too many times? Give me a break!

  20. kelvin (unregistered) on January 2nd, 2007 @ 6:52 pm

    Lets pretend you are at a club with your friends and you get into an altercation with a few other club patrons. Out of fear of a good ol fashion ass beating, you try to push that fear onto them with threats of a gun. Then when you are leaving, you are approached by a larger group of unknown men. Tell me you are going to stick around to find out what they want. First instinct is to get away. You already made the gun threat and these guys still approach you. Tell me your fear would not take over. If it were me, my vehicle would be floored in the direction away from that location. I would not stick around to ask questions. The police officers should have known Bell and friends state of mind at the time for they were third party spectators. They should have known they would panic if approached. The officers were not thinking clearly obviously. Why didn’t the officers call for uniformed backup? The undercover could have trailed the vehicle until the backup arrived.

  21. Noah (unregistered) on January 2nd, 2007 @ 8:05 pm

    @ Kelvin: And waited for these kids to be in a public area where others could potentially get hurt? First rule of officer training is to stop people they believe to be criminals.

    Trying to assess the state of mind of people who purport to have guns is not a good idea, because you don’t know what they will do next.

  22. Kelvin (unregistered) on January 3rd, 2007 @ 4:52 pm

    @ NOAH: If I remember correctly, they were at a strip club at four in the morning. Wouldn’t that have been that public area you are trying to protect? At four in the morning, this is probably the most populated of places. First rule of officer training is to stop people they beleive to be criminals “without putting citizens at risk”. I would call fifty shots in any direction a risk to innocent citizens. My arguement is why are people surprised by the reaction of the victims/criminals. Trying to run down a person that is rushing towards them with a gun. My point is they were just reacting like any law-abiding person would. (coming from someone who has not even seen a speeding ticket in his name). They were scared! I am not defending these guys necessarily, just not condemning them like others on here are.

  23. Vinnie (unregistered) on January 4th, 2007 @ 2:20 pm



    “Trying to run down a person that is rushing towards them with a gun. My point is they were just reacting like any law-abiding person would.”

    Cmon, a cop flashes his badge and gun, runs at you, says police and the law-abiding action it for this guys drunk ass to try to run him over, wow.

    Sean Bell had a lot more than a speeding ticket in his name, try two drug charges, and 14 arrests between everyone in the car.

    I know what we all say about assumptions, but Sean Bell’s lack of reported income or job, a car, a cruise and diamond for his finace point to criminal or at best black market/unreported activities, and two prior drug charges suggest he was a drug dealer.

  24. Soullite (unregistered) on January 7th, 2007 @ 2:08 pm

    Half you folks deserve a bullet to the brain. I woinder how you would feel if your kids were gunned down. If you’re wives and husbands had their insides blasted into the street. The world would be a better place if you were all dead. I really can’t wait until that day comes.

  25. Vinnie (unregistered) on January 7th, 2007 @ 11:26 pm

    @Soullite: Wow lets make this personal, and wish us dead. Good point by the way, are you saying that because someone has kids or a wife, they categorically should never be shot? Osama Bin Laden has a lot of wives and children (excuse the extreme example, but I am dealing with someone who thinks in such resdiculous extremes, hence can’t wait for me to die), imagine if he was shot, is that a tragedy too?

    Fact is kids nor my my future wife would ever deal crack at a seedy strip club (allegedly), nor try to run over a cop while drunk when he is asked to step out of his vehicle. And why is that, something that all you cop-haters and Sean Bell lovers do not understand is respect for the rules of society and those who put their lives on the line to protect us, rather than blind hatred for any authority or public office. I do not have sympathy for thugs who get in the car drunk, try to run over cops who ask them to stop the car and talk to them.

  26. Noah (unregistered) on January 8th, 2007 @ 9:53 am

    @Soullite How would you feel if your kid, spouse, or parent was the cop? With a car baring down on them, would you be mad at them for shooting at the criminal that was barrelling toward them?

  27. Mike (unregistered) on January 8th, 2007 @ 2:52 pm

    Is anyone else scared of Vinnie?

  28. Mike (unregistered) on January 8th, 2007 @ 2:56 pm

    I meant Soullite, anyone scared of him or her? I know I am.

  29. iKnowNoah (unregistered) on January 9th, 2007 @ 5:38 pm

    I got especially scared when he or she asked me to consider….. “If you’re wives and husbands had their insides blasted into the street.”

  30. swoononeone (unregistered) on January 9th, 2007 @ 9:47 pm

    Its been hinted that this may be one of the first Post-Iraq-War-Syndrome shootings. The facts point to an overaction by the NYPD whether or not there was a gun was in the car or not.

    Shots fired into the air. Officer Mike Oliver that fired a 31 shots?! That does not sound like professional conduct.

    Check some alternatives to Fox News…

    (they even have surveilence video… Real Player, that was “ommited” by NY Daily News when the story was initially covered)

  31. Boris (unregistered) on January 10th, 2007 @ 10:55 am

    @Swoononeone – We’ve established that the cops overreacted. Everyone agrees on that now. It seemed obvious to many from the beginning, but all of the others finally came around. We’ve moved on to Soullite’s latest post, and the level of fear that that came as a result. Personally, I thought it was especially disturbing when he or suggested the world would be a better place when “we were all dead.” Ouch!

  32. Helen (unregistered) on January 10th, 2007 @ 2:47 pm

    Most definitely a “bad call”. I saw an interview with the cops, they were clearly kicking themselves for the lapse in judgement.

  33. Darryl (unregistered) on January 10th, 2007 @ 2:52 pm

    A quote I saw from one of the officers: “I think it’s safe to say we went a little bit overboard. We were flustered, scared. You train, and you train, and you train, but sometimes you just get caught up in the heat of the moment and let instinct take over. I think I speak for all of us when I say that I am so, so sorry to the victims and their families. We blew it.” Case closed folks…..

  34. Shavonne (unregistered) on January 10th, 2007 @ 4:31 pm

    I would like to first start by saying that the entry posted by Sara on Dec 19, 2006 has got to be one of the most ignorant paragraphs that I have ever read in my whole life. What does you being a teacher and one of your black students not wanting to attend the trip have anything to do with Sean Bell. You sound racist and should be brought to trial with the trigger happy cops who shot Sean and his buddies. Shooting at a car 50 times can never be justifed. Reloading a pistol after already emptying a clip can never be justified. What? was the cops trying to make sure they were dead. I though what they should have been doing, if they though the boys had a gun, was to disarm them. This could have took one cop do this. I am from Chicago, IL a place where cops are known for killing innocent victims, so people do not need to speak about NYPD as if they were innocent. Just like there are crooked people, their are crooked cops. I don’t care if these men had records the size of New York, it doesn’t justify what these cops have done. A weapon wasn’t found, so this means that Sean Bell was MURDERED for no reason. I don’t care what no one thinks about this situation and these men because when it is all said and done. God will make the ultimate decision.

  35. Noah (unregistered) on January 11th, 2007 @ 11:38 am

    Can anyone cite an article they have read where the cops said they were sorry or admitted making a mistake? As far as I knew, there was some gag order on the case. I would love to read what they said! This is all I can find:

    @Boris: Who said that everyone has “come around?”

  36. Boris (unregistered) on January 11th, 2007 @ 5:07 pm

    @Noah – Sorry, didn’t mean to assume anything, I thought cooler heads had prevailed. Would you still say that you “loathe to assume fault”?

  37. Noah (unregistered) on January 11th, 2007 @ 5:21 pm

    @Boris: Generally, the people who indict without a trial and assume guilt are not considered “cooler heads.” The police, as far as I have read, have not condemned the officers (save for paid leave until it is resolved, which is S.O.P.), nor has a court, so basically it is the public who is shocked at the volume of shots that were fired who assume this is an open-and-shut case. Yes, one officer fired a shitload of bullets, and it is AT LEAST questionable and at most criminal, but none of us know enough to assume anything.

    @Savonne: According to Michael Oliver, he reloaded because he thought his magazine jammed…. Sounds fishy, but when one is hearing shots all around them and is scared for their life, some confusion is understandable.

  38. Boris (unregistered) on January 11th, 2007 @ 5:44 pm

    @Noah: Sounds like you’re the arguing type. The reason why the public minus Noah is so unanimous on this is because it’s so obvious to everyone. There is no circumstance in which this was not excessive.

  39. Helen (unregistered) on January 11th, 2007 @ 5:49 pm

    Fishy? At least questionable? Is that how callus we are – a man dies and its “questionable”?

  40. Noah (unregistered) on January 11th, 2007 @ 5:58 pm

    @Boris: Yes, I can be argumentative if I am passionate about something. But, if you insult someone by calling yourself the “cooler head,” expect them to respond. Otherwise, that is pretentious. Turning it personal makes your argument seem much less cerebral. And, you are incorrect to think that I am the only one person in the world who isn’t assuming guilt. Read the papers, watch a talk show, listen to non-politicians… This is just an uncomfortable topic that many chose not to respond to, which is understandable.

    @Helen: Yes, that is a good point and made me stop and think, but I am not saying that the fact that a guy died is questionable. I am saying that the amount of shots fired is questionable. I believe Mr. Bell took his life in his own hands when he accelerated his car toward a cop, and then when he tried again to hit him a second time. It seems to me that not too many are blaming the cops for shooting at all, it is the sheer volume of fires, which is the part that I believe is questionable.

  41. Mike (unregistered) on January 12th, 2007 @ 2:32 pm

    @Noah – Insulted? Really? No one’s skin can be that thin. It was self-serving commentary to be sure, but I hardly assumed I’d insult anyone on the other side of the argument. haha. Just kind of ribbing you a bit, which has proved quite easy. But final word – let’s not over think this. 40 shots is too many. As I’ve said, and as everyone will eventually conclude, the actions were excessive. Despite you ultra impressive diversion tactics, and jaw dropping vocabulary, you have not convinced me that the cop didn’t panic. It’s obvious.

  42. RealityCheck (unregistered) on January 12th, 2007 @ 5:10 pm

    Right… so let me get this right, they are black and killing them is fine as long as the people who kill them are black.

    As a black person I find your post very very offensive. Don’t you know at the big house the master had blacks who supervised the slaves, following your logic that is fine.

    So 40 shots is fine because they are bad people (read black youths), how many times would you shoot a black for shoplifting, maybe just a couple times.

  43. Kelvin (unregistered) on January 13th, 2007 @ 8:17 pm

    One question to all of you who beleive that Bell was a criminal and “got what he deserved”. Do you think the police knew his previous history before they fired those shots? So how is this even a valid arguement for what happened? This could have happened to anyone that reacted badly to a situation.

  44. Kelvin (unregistered) on January 13th, 2007 @ 8:22 pm

    Another note… I hate this Hate Crime bullsh**. Anyone that classifies a crime as a hate crime due to race is racist themselves. I feel we are all the same when we get down to the center of things, so any crime against another person I feel is a hate crime.

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