Posted by: communitycop | March 8, 2008

Sean Bell trial filled with conflicting details

QUEENS COURIER

BY TONIA N. CIMINO
Friday, March 7, 2008 10:36 AM EST

The Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) that testified early this week in the case against the so-called “50-shot cops” on trial for the death of Sean Bell said they saw the detectives wearing their badges, despite earlier testimony from a supervising officer at the scene that none of the detectives identified himself as a cop.An undercover officer – actually inside the Club Kalua the night of November 25, 2006 – took the stand on Monday, March 3 to tell the court that he heard Joseph Guzman, wounded in the barrage, yell, “Yo, go get my gun,” at least twice, according to published reports.

Detective Hispolito Sanchez’s testimony that Bell and Guzman were nearly involved in an altercation with a man in an SUV could give credence to the claim by Detectives Marc Cooper, Gescard Isnora and Michael Oliver that Bell and his pals Guzman and Trent Benefield were armed.

“One of the critical points in this trial will be the credibility of the witnesses that testify,” said Michael Palladino on Wednesday, February 27. Palladino is President of the Detectives’ Endowment Association (DEA) and Vice President of the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO).

According to court proceedings, the cops executing the sting that night, under the direction of Lieutenant Gary Napoli, focused on Bell’s party.Napoli, on modified duty in the almost year-and-a-half since, may also face charges for “failure to supervise his officers,” according to published reports.

The night of Bell’s death, he reportedly revved up his team, as they were close to closing the club, with a history of drugs and prostitution.

However, prosecutors are aiming to prove that Napoli’s supervision was fraught with errors. They claim Napoli, in a Toyota parked across the street, failed to assign the officers under his watch to specific duties, and that Isnora was the only cop of four to bring his gun.

Testimony continued that Isnora warned Napoli of a man in a baseball cap whom he believed to be armed.

Prosecutors allege that Napoli gave little if any information to his officers when they began tailing Bell, Guzman and Benefield.

“The story of how this tragedy occurred is a tale of carelessness, verging on incompetence,” prosecutor Charles Testagrossa said in published reports. “The preparation for the operation fell far short.”

Both Isnora and Oliver, who face up to 25 years in prison, have pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges. Cooper, who may face a year in jail if convicted, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of reckless endangerment.

Thursday, March 6th 2008, 11:06 AM

A prosecution expert witness undercut the case against the three cops accused of killing Sean Bell Wednesday by admitting she could have contaminated the shooting scene.

Detective Ellen Friedman, who specializes in finding guns concealed in cars, said she was not wearing protective gear – except for rubber gloves – when she used a screwdriver to pry open a door and remove an air bag.

She did the search before crime scene investigators finished searching Bell’s SUV.

“I didn’t take any precautions as to contaminating any bloodstains or any other evidence in the vehicle,” Friedman said, adding that she saw two spent shell casings beneath the driver’s seat during her search.

Friedman’s testimony was supposed to buttress prosecutors’ contention that Bell was killed on his wedding day by three trigger-happy detectives who fired 50 shots without letting the targets know they were police.

Instead, it laid the groundwork for the defense to argue that anything found in the car should be thrown out because proper procedures weren’t followed to protect the evidence.

Earlier, a Queens cop who was the first regular officer to arrive at the scene testified that the undercover detectives had their badges clearly displayed.

Officer Robert Maloney said one of the detectives “had his shield out around his neck and he was holding it in my direction. He had a firearm in his right hand. It was pointed down.”

Maloney, who admitted he didn’t arrive at the scene until several minutes after the shooting, said one of the undercovers told him, “I’m from narcotics. We have two perps shot.”

Maloney’s testimony came a day after NYPD Lt. Michael Wheeler, who also was called as a witness for the prosecution, testified he did not see any police identification displayed when he encountered Detective Marc Cooper – one of the cops on trial.

The lieutenant in charge of the undercover team, Gary Napoli, has also said he did not hear the detectives identify themselves as cops.

The other accused detectives are Gescard Isnora, who shot 11 times, and Michael Oliver, who fired 31 rounds – including the fatal shot. Cooper fired four times.

Sgt. Donald Kipp of the 103rd Precinct in Jamaica, who was in charge of collecting the guns from the detectives at the scene, testified that Oliver complained about “ringing in his ears.”

Bell, 23, was killed Nov. 25, 2006. His buddies Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman were badly wounded but survived the police bullets. The three men were at the Kalua Cabaret, a seedy Queens strip joint, for Bell’s bachelor party.

Defense lawyers say the detectives, who were at the club for a prostitution sting, began shooting after Bell rammed his car into their unmarked police van – and because they believed somebody in Bell’s car had a gun. It turned out the men were unarmed.

Oliver and Isnora face manslaughter charges. Cooper is charged with reckless endangerment.

csiemaszko@nydailynews.com

March 8 2008    NY1 News All Morning

A retired NYPD detective who collected evidence at the scene of the Sean Bell police shooting delivered testimony Thursday that contradicts another officer’s account of the events.

Detective David Rivera testified for more than seven hours Thursday as prosecutors entered into evidence dozens of items he collected, from shell casings to baseball hats.

Rivera’s statements cast some doubt on the testimony of Lieutenant Gary Napoli, the commanding officer the night Bell was shot. Napoli said last week he did not see the shooting because he was reaching for a bubble light to identify his car as a police vehicle.

But Rivera testified he never found the light in Napoli’s car.

The prosecution showed the court more than 100 photos of Bell’s car and the surrounding neighborhood, including dramatic photos of the passenger side of car where Bell’s friend Joseph Guzman was sitting at the time of the shooting. The door was riddled with what appeared to be more than a dozen bullet holes.

Officers have said they thought Guzman had a gun, but no gun was ever found at the scene.

Prosecutors also presented photos of a nearby house hit by one of the bullets. A shot fired by Detective Michael Oliver went through an open window and lodged in a lamp. Other were presented as evidence of other bullets that had gone far astray, including one that hit a nearby AirTrain platform, and another that hit a car well down the block.

Outside the court this afternoon, the NAACP spoke out against reckless shooting.

“You look at how much blood was in that car,” said Leroy Gadsden of the NAACP. “It’s only by the grace of God Mr. Benefield was able to escape. I just cannot believe that a human being would do that to another human being.”

“Just as there was no justification for the shooting of Sean Bell and the wounding of his friends, Joe and Trent, there is no justification for putting innocent people in harm’s way,” said Sanford Rubenstein, attorney for the shooting victims.

Detectives Endowment Association head Michael Palladino argued that an officer firing his weapon but missing a target is not committing a crime.

“[Then] anytime a police officer fires his weapon in New York City, and misses his target, which unfortunately we do about 75 percent of the time, he could theoretically be charged with reckless endangerment,” said Palladino.

Meanwhile, during lunch break Thursday, a man outside the courtroom appeared to threaten the three detectives being tried as they were leaving. The man was escorted away for questioning.

Five witnesses testified Wednesday, including Detective Ellen Friedman, an expert in searching for hidden compartments in cars. She testified that she searched Bell’s car after the shooting and found no weapons.

Prosecutors also introduced into evidence the five guns used by the officers in the shooting. The guns were collected by Sergeant Donald Kipp, who interviewed the three detectives on trial.

He says Detectives Mike Oliver and Marc Cooper both admitted to firing their weapons that night.

But he says Detective Gescard Isnora told him he isn’t sure whether he fired or not.

Kipp says the officers who were inside the club where Bell was celebrating his bachelor party were all fit for duty, meaning if they did have a few drinks, he did not think they were drunk.

Detectives Oliver and Isnora are charged with manslaughter.

Detective Cooper is charged with reckless endangerment.

Posted by: communitycop | March 8, 2008

Undercover cop, paramedics testify in Sean Bell case

Updated Tuesday, March 4th 2008, 12:18 PM

One of Sean Bell‘s pals yelled, “Get my gun” two times in the minutes before the groom-to-be died in a barrage of 50 police bullets, an undercover cop testified yesterday.

Detective Hispolito Sanchez said Bell and Joseph Guzman confronted a man in an SUV outside the Jamaica strip club where they just finished a bachelor party.

“[Bell] said, ‘Let’s f— them up,'” Sanchez, 36, testified. “[Guzman] said, ‘Yo, go get my gun.'”

Sanchez, the first witness from among the detectives who had been inside the Kalua Cabaret, said Bell walked away when the driver put his hands in his pockets as if he had a weapon.

The doomed man returned moments later and repeated the same threatening comments, Sanchez said.

After hearing about the faceoff, cops set in motion the confrontation that ended with police shooting Bell dead and wounding his two friends on Nov. 25, 2006.

Lawyers for Bell’s family promptly accused Sanchez of making up the repartee to protect his fellow cops.

“Yes, I think he lied,” said Neville Mitchell, who represents the slain man’s family.

Detectives Michael Oliver and Gescard Isnora are facing manslaughter charges for unleashing the fusillade on Bell, who was supposed to get married the day he was killed. Detective Marc Cooper was charged with reckless endangerment.

Sanchez said he was with Cooper and Isnora inside the bar and drank a Heineken and a Corona beer while trying to talk a dancer into accepting his sex-for-cash offer.

None of the cops had any luck making a prostitution arrest and the boisterous crowd got out of hand as partiers poured outside of the shabby strip club at closing time, Sanchez said.

“It was a lot rowdier,” the cop testified.

Sanchez’s testimony could back up the cops’ claim that they believed Bell was armed and that they opened fire after he ignored orders to stop his car.

Sanchez also conceded his colleagues failed to follow the man in the SUV — who may have been armed — and instead raced down the sidewalk for the botched confrontation with Bell and his friends.

“They let him get away,” Mitchell said.

A dramatic videotape earlier showed one of Bell’s wounded friends lying bloody and facedown on the pavement moments after the shooting.

Bell’s would-be bride, Nicole Paultre Bell, clasped her hands in prayer and gazed horrified at the video showing Trent Benefield screaming in pain.

“I can’t feel my legs,” Benefield yelled on the tape, which was shot by amateur videographer Anthony South, 37, who heard about the shooting on a police scanner.

A top paramedic earlier testified that Bell was near death when she arrived at the scene minutes after the shooting.

Emergency Medical Services Lt. Elise Hanlon said another paramedic was trying to revive the unarmed groom-to-be outside the Jamaica strip club where cops shot Bell and two pals after his bachelor party.

“[Bell] was not moving,” Hanlon testified in Queens Supreme Court. “He was pulseless.”

Hanlon and another paramedic said they recalled seeing a police badge dangling from the neck of an undercover cop when they arrived at the scene — a key dispute in the nonjury trial.

The supervising cop at the scene, Lt. Gary Napoli, shocked the trial last week when he conceded that he couldn’t remember seeing any badges at the scene and didn’t hear any of the cops identify themselves as police officers.

nbode@nydailynews.com

Posted by: communitycop | March 8, 2008

Detective Tells of Tense Hours on Night of Sean Bell Shooting

Top of Form

By MICHAEL WILSON

Published: March 4, 2008

The first undercover detective to enter an exotic dancing club in Queens hours before the fatal shooting of Sean Bell had misgivings from the start, telling his lieutenant he was uncomfortable with the size and rowdiness of the crowd at Club Kalua, the detective testified on Monday.

Inside the Sean Bell Shooting Trial

“There’s more guys; it’s a lot rowdier,” the detective, Hispolito Sanchez, 36, said he told Lt. Gary Napoli that night, Nov. 24, 2006. A fellow detective, Gescard F. Isnora, sat beside him, but Detective Sanchez was concerned about a man “looking at me hard” from across the room. “I didn’t feel comfortable,” he testified. But he said he became more at ease when a third detective, Marc Cooper, joined them.

The detective’s testimony at the trial of Detectives Isnora, Cooper and Michael Oliver was the first from a police officer who was inside Club Kalua during the hours before the shooting, which occurred early Nov. 25. Detective Sanchez also said that he had overheard an argument between Mr. Bell’s friends and another man, and that one of Mr. Bell’s friends said, “Yo, go get my gun.”

Detective Sanchez was not involved in the shooting, in which five officers fired 50 rounds, killing Mr. Bell and wounding his two friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield. The detective’s recollection of that night, told before Justice Arthur J. Cooperman, who is hearing the case without a jury, stopped just short of the shooting as testimony ended for the day.

Investigators, including Detective Sanchez, had conducted a similar prostitution and drug operation a few nights earlier, on Nov. 22, which ended with the arrests of two women. Detective Sanchez said that when he returned on the night of Nov. 24, teaming up with Detectives Isnora and Cooper, he saw a man, Mr. Guzman, arguing with someone inside.

He testified that Detective Isnora told him that he had overheard a man in a Chicago White Sox cap tell a woman that he would “take care of” a man she had had a problem with earlier, and that the man in the cap indicated a bulge in his clothing, as if he were armed.

Shortly before closing time, Detective Sanchez said, he saw that the two other detectives had left, and he left, too. He said that he saw them outside among about 20 customers, and that Detective Isnora told him he had retrieved his gun, which he could not carry into the club.

Then Detective Sanchez said he overheard an argument between Mr. Guzman and a man standing near a sport utility vehicle in front of the club. During the argument, Mr. Bell approached and said they should all beat the man up, and Mr. Guzman said twice, “Yo, go get my gun,” Detective Sanchez said.

The man near the S.U.V. said nothing, he said. “He had his right hand in his jacket. He shot Sean Bell a look,” Detective Sanchez said.

Then Mr. Bell and his friends walked toward Liverpool Street. Detective Sanchez said he called Lieutenant Napoli and passed the phone to Detective Isnora, who followed Mr. Bell.

Detective Sanchez said he stayed behind.

Other testimony on Monday, from the first paramedics and emergency medical technicians to arrive after the shooting, described the frantic efforts to save Mr. Bell, who was in his car and had no pulse. One emergency medical technician administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation while a paramedic with an air balloon also tried to resuscitate Mr. Bell.

On cross examination, the paramedic, Lt. Elise Hanlon, testified that when she arrived on Liverpool shortly after receiving the call at 4:14 a.m., there was another ambulance parked in the area where most of the 50 police shell casings would later be found. The defense is expected to raise the possibility that the ambulance jostled the shell casings, contaminating the evidence.

Firefighter Mark Massa helped treat one of the wounded, Mr. Benefield. He said that Mr. Benefield appeared to be sober, which contradicted the defense’s portrayal of Mr. Bell’s bachelor party as a drunken affair. He also said he could not tell whether the wound in Mr. Benefield’s right buttock was an entrance or an exit wound, raising the possibility that prosecutors might suggest he was shot while running away.

Posted by: communitycop | March 8, 2008

Sean Bell trial begins with anger and tears

Reverend Al Sharpton (r.) enters Queens Criminal Court Monday with Sean Bell’s fiance, Nicole Paultre (c.) and her mother.Sean Bell was portrayed as the victim of trigger-happy cops – and attacked as a provocative “drunk” who brought tragedy on himself – as the so-called 50-shot trial opened Monday with protests, prayer and passion. “The story of how this tragedy occurred is a tale of carelessness,” Queens prosecutor Charles Testagrossa said, referring to Detectives Michael Oliver, Gescard Isnora and Marc Cooper, whose deadly barrage felled Bell on his wedding day. In laying out the prosecution’s case, Testagrossa said:

  • · Isnora failed to display his badge and did not wait for backup before confronting Bell and his two pals outside a seedy Queens strip joint after Bell’s bachelor party.
  • · Oliver, who fired 31 rounds, including the fatal shot, might have realized there was no threat if only he had “paused to reassess.”
  • · The undercover operation at the Kalua Cabaret on 94th Ave. in Jamaica that led to Bell’s death was “verging on incompetence,” the prosecutor said. “It will be clear that what happened cannot be explained away as a mere accident or mistake,” Testagrossa told Queens Supreme Court Justice Arthur Cooperman, who is presiding over the nonjury trial. “It can only be described as criminal.” (To Read the full story Click Here)

REV. AL SHARPTON STATEMENT ON MOTION FOR VENUE CHANGE IN SEAN BELL TRIAL

January 7, 2008–

Nicole Paultre-Bell, Joseph Guzman, and Trent Benefield joined me at a rally at National Action Network headquarters on Saturday, December 22nd and stated that we would aggressively oppose any change of venue motion. I have publicly advised the two survivors to consider not cooperating as witnesses with any trial outside of Queens because it would make a mockery of the criminal justice system. This is a cheap attempt to play the “Diallo Card” and to say that the new way for police to duck accountability is to not be tried by the people they police and are paid by is outrageous. What is particularly offensive in this case is this amount of advertising dollars that the Detectives Endowment Association spent trying to sway the public and now they accuse the public of being unfit to make a fair and impartial judgment on the facts of this case. I think that this is insulting to the intelligence of the people of Queens. We also announced on that day that we will march on the Appellate Court bringing out hundreds of people to protest this “Diallo Move” when this change of venue motion is argued at the Appellate Court.

Posted by: communitycop | December 1, 2007

Watch Community Cop “LIVE” Every Tuesday IN THE BRONX!!!

Community Cop can now be seen “LIVE” in the Bronx every Tuesday at 5pm.  (Bxnet Channel TBA)  This means that Bronx residents can now particiapte in the live discussion as breaking news is unveiled by our host Father Lawrence Lucas-community activist and Marq Claxton, Julian Harper, Noel Leader of the 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care.   

Community Cop offers updated and breaking news coverage on police

and law enforcement issues while examining & monitoring the impact of the

criminal justice system in local communities throughout the New York

City/Metropolitan area.

To join in on the discussion call 212/757-1394 or log onto MNN.org at 5pm

and click “channel 34”.

IN ORDER TO AVOID POLICE CULPABILITY IN THE KILLING OF KHIEL COPPIN

100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care is deeply concerned by a disturbing pattern of premature pronouncements by NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly following Police killings of unarmed civilians. Commissioner Kelly’s knee jerk justifications of the use of deadly physical force by Police Officers, compromises the integrity of a comprehensive investigation and introduces a bias.

The recent shooting of Khiel Coppin is just the latest in Police killings of unarmed civilians that Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly rushed to indicate “appears to be within Department guidelines” prior to their being a comprehensive examination of evidence and facts. 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care calls for an independent investigation and permanent Special Prosecutor in light of the spate of Police killings.

100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care co-founder Marq Claxton states, “Commissioner Kelly’s conduct in regards to the Khiel Coppin shooting re-affirms that he is not interested in the truth by way of transparency and full disclosure, but rather is obsessed with media manipulation and deceptive public relations ploys. Until Raymond Kelly is compelled to institute safeguards against race based Police shootings, these incidents will continue to happen.”

Presiding: 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care
National Latino Officers Association

Posted by: communitycop | November 18, 2007

Teen shot to death by NYPD who mistake hairbrush for gun

18-year-old Kheil Coppin Gunned down by NYPDWatch exclusive video of community response

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60rknz_OY1g

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