Sean Bell’s family Thursday pleaded with the city’s police commissioner to fire the officers involved in the 2006 shooting that killed 23-year-old Bell hours before he was to be married.
Wednesday Judge Martin Karopkin found Detective Gescard Isnora, who fired the first shot, guilty of violating department guidelines. After the ruling the NYPD trials commissioner recommended that Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly fire Isnora.
“We’re thankful Isnora was found guilty and the recommendation was made,” said Bell’s fiancee Nicole Paultre-Bell as she stood with her family, lawyers and Rev. Al Sharpton during a press conference at the National Action Network House of Justice in Harlem.
Five years ago Bell and two friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, were leaving Bell’s bachelor party at a Queens strip club that was under police surveillance. Isnora said he thought Guzman was reaching for a gun when he fired upon the vehicle of Bell and friends. This resulted in a 50 bullet shootout on the unarmed men. Isnora and two of his colleagues were acquitted of all charges in 2008 at the State Supreme Court in Queens.
“He was demonized,” said Rev. Al Sharpton of the defense attorney’s case in the 2008 trial. The attorney said Bell was intoxicated and that the detectives feared for their lives.
Detective Michael Oliver, Detective Marc Cooper and Lieutenant Gary Napoli have all made deals that would grant them the right to retire with pensions.
“We say to the commissioner, please for our family, for the life and memory of Sean, for Joe and Trent, and for New York City – terminate all these men with no pensions,” said Paultre-Bell of the tentative deals that Kelly has the power to overrule.
Paultre-Bell also spoke of her two daughters who are now ages eight and five who she said miss their father every day. She said that if she could speak to Isnora she wouldn’t say to him any mean-spirited words but instead she would tell him that the loss of Bell is what hurts the most.
“He caused so much pain,” said Paultre-Bell.
Sharpton, who has been a spokesman for the family for five years, said he hopes Kelly will agree to speak with the Bell family before he makes his final decision.
He said the members of the family have shown dignity, and have given back to the community through their mentoring programs and community projects.
“It’s not over, it’s not finished,” said Paultre-Bell. “Not even the commissioner has the last word, God does.”