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#332825 - Sun Nov 26 2006 11:55 AM Police fire 50 rounds, kill groom on day of wedding
meanwolf8u Offline
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Registered: Thu Nov 23 2006
Posts: 12
Loc: Columbus, Ohio USA
NEW YORK (AP) -- Police fired 50 rounds Saturday at a car of unarmed men leaving a bachelor party at a strip club, killing the groom on his wedding day in a shooting that drew a furious outcry from family members and community leaders.

The spray of bullets hit the car 21 times, after the vehicle rammed into an undercover officer and then an unmarked NYPD minivan twice, police said. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly would not say if the collisions were what prompted police to open fire.

It was too early to say whether the shooting was justified, Kelly said. (Watch questions raised by groom's shooting Video)

Police thought one of the men in the car might have had a gun. But police found no weapons.

"Although it is too early to draw conclusions about this morning's shootings ... we know that the NYPD officers on the scene had reason to believe that an altercation involving a firearm was about to happen and were trying to stop it," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.

Kelly said the incident stemmed from an undercover operation inside the strip club. Seven officers in plain clothes were investigating the Kalua Cabaret, and five were involved in the shooting. The gunfire also hit nearby homes and a train station, though no residents were injured.

A veteran officer fired his weapon 31 times, emptying two full magazines, Kelly said. All the officers carried 9 mm handguns.

The groom, who was driving, was identified as Sean Bell, 23. Joseph Guzman, 31, was in the front seat and was shot at least 11 times. Trent Benefield, 23, who was in the back seat, was hit three times. Both men were taken to Mary Immaculate Hospital. Guzman was listed in critical condition and Benefield was in stable condition.

Kelly said there may have been a fourth person in the car who fled the scene.

Three officers, including the officer hit by the car, were treated and released. Another detective remained hospitalized for blood pressure, Kelly said.

Abraham Kamara, 38, who lives a few blocks from the club, said he was getting ready for work at about 4 a.m. when he heard bursts of gunfire.

"First it was like four shots," he said. "And then it was like pop-pop-pop like 12 times."

A grand jury was investigating the incident. Kelly said none of the five veteran officers had ever discharged their weapons in the line of duty. He has not been able to interview the officers because the district attorney must first complete an investigation, he said.

The undercover officers were inside the club to document illicit activity, Kelly said. With one more violation the club would be shut down, Kelly said.

He said the establishment has a "chronic history of narcotics, prostitution and weapons complaints."
Sharpton joins protests

The shooting drew angry protests from family members and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Sharpton went to the hospitals where the men were taken and afterward held news conferences. At Jamaica Hospital, the civil rights advocate stood with about two dozen members of Bell's and his fiancee's family.

"I will stand with this family," he said. "This stinks. Something about the story being told did not seem right."

Sharpton said Bell and his fiancee had two children, ages 3 years and 5 months.

At Mary Immaculate Hospital, Sharpton said he was outraged to find the survivors handcuffed to their hospital beds. He said Guzman suffered 17 wounds, though it was unclear how many were bullet wounds, and Benefield was shot three times.

"We're not anti-police ... we're anti-police brutality," he said.

The two were unshackled later Saturday and have not been charged with a crime.

Robert Porter, who identified himself as Bell's first cousin, said he was supposed to be a DJ at the wedding. He said about 250 people were invited and were flying in from all over the country. He said his cousin wasn't the type to confront police and that he was "on the straight and narrow."

"I still don't want to believe it," Porter said, "a beautiful day like this, and he was going to have a beautiful wedding, he was going to live forever with his wife and children. And this happened."

In 1999, police killed Amadou Diallo, an unarmed West African immigrant who was shot 19 times in the Bronx. The four officers in that case were acquitted of criminal charges.

And in 2003, Ousmane Zongo, 43, a native of the western African country of Burkina Faso who repaired art and musical instruments in a Manhattan warehouse, was shot to death during a police raid. Zongo was hit four times, twice in the back.
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#332826 - Sun Nov 26 2006 12:09 PM Re: Police fire 50 rounds, kill groom on day of wedding [Re: meanwolf8u]
sue943 Offline

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Registered: Sun Dec 19 1999
Posts: 36559
Loc: Jersey Channel Islands        
That is dreadful. It makes me glad that in the main, our police are not armed with guns. The sight of a policeman with a gun makes me feel very uneasy, even at airports which is where we normally see them.
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#332827 - Sun Nov 26 2006 01:20 PM Re: Police fire 50 rounds, kill groom on day of wedding [Re: sue943]
lothruin Offline
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Registered: Wed Nov 12 2003
Posts: 2165
Loc: Nebraska USA
Without the rest of the facts, I hesitate to make any complaint against the police officers. But the fact that no weapons were found is telling. A vehicle can be used as a lethal weapon, but there are plenty of non-lethal ways to stop that from happening, and the possibility of weapons in that vehicle can be taken care of without using lethal force as well. The sheer number of bullets involved in the incident seems ridiculous in light of the fact that most likely the situation could have been alleviated without lethal force even IF the civilians involved were out to do damage to the police officers.

I'm interested in knowing a few more things, specifically whether drugs were involved, whether alcohol were involved, and whether the police officers had experienced some kind of altercation with the men before leaving the establishment, during which those men were not aware they were dealing with plain-clothes police officers. Men who've been drinking and carousing are not always known for their peaceful manners, and if those men were not aware that they were dealing with policemen, there may have been some braggarts swaggering about. As police officers, I can see how something like that could seem particularly threatening, but I know for a fact that guys do that all the time without the situation degenerating to the point where any of those brags actually come to pass. I'd be interested in knowing what went on beforehand.
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#332828 - Sun Nov 26 2006 02:25 PM Re: Police fire 50 rounds, kill groom on day of wedding [Re: lothruin]
trojan11 Offline
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Registered: Wed Nov 01 2006
Posts: 5815
Loc: Santa Ana
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Fifty rounds fired with no return fire? Seems just a tad excessive, if indeed that was the case.
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#332829 - Sun Nov 26 2006 03:15 PM Re: Police fire 50 rounds, kill groom on day of wedding [Re: meanwolf8u]
Taesma Offline
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Registered: Fri Jun 20 2003
Posts: 1179
Loc: Bay Area California USA      
Quote:

The spray of bullets hit the car 21 times, after the vehicle rammed into an undercover officer and then an unmarked NYPD minivan twice, police said. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly would not say if the collisions were what prompted police to open fire.



Quote:

Kelly said none of the five veteran officers had ever discharged their weapons in the line of duty.




These two things do lead me to not jump to conclusions and to wait for the investigation. I am no huge fan of New York law enforcement, they strike me as rather trigger happy--but that doesn't mean it isn't always justified. It's pretty hard to stop a charging vehicle, and police are trained to drop people in their tracks because they probably wouldn't get a second chance if a wounded person got a chance to use a weapon.

I too want to know what went on in the club beforehand. Just because the guy was a groom doesn't mean he was necessarily an innocent bystander.
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#332830 - Sun Nov 26 2006 05:49 PM Re: Police fire 50 rounds, kill groom on day of wedding [Re: Taesma]
meanwolf8u Offline
Participant

Registered: Thu Nov 23 2006
Posts: 12
Loc: Columbus, Ohio USA
My father is a police officer and I talked to him about this today. As an officer for 12 years who has pulled his gun only twice and never fired a round, he said that an incident would have to make him feel like he were in grave danger before he would ever consider firing. That being said, he works in a city significantly smaller than NYC and told me to understand a couple of things. 1) Officers know that ever altercation is being reviewed by the internal police department and potentially being viewed by a multitude of witnesses. Firing your weapon means that you will be automatically reviewed and every officer knows that before they make the decision to fire their weapon. 2) Many of the videos that are shown that display "police brutality" are the tail end of an incident and what took place prior or what information the officers have about the subject (dangerous, armed, etc.) is unknown to the general public. 3) There are many who have seen or heard of police brutality and therefore are looking for it or anything that may resemble it, as well as others (Al Sharpton in this case) that benefit from any situation that can provide a shining light on their "cause". 4) Unless your an officer, or have been in that situation, you will never be able to say without doubt what you would do, how you would do it, or what you would be feeling during a situation where you think yourself or your fellow officers may be in danger.

Those things are said with the knowledge that sometimes police brutality is real and does exist and that we may never know what really happened or what the officers real motivations were.
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#332831 - Mon Nov 27 2006 04:05 PM Re: Police fire 50 rounds, kill groom on day of wedding [Re: meanwolf8u]
ladymacb29 Offline
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Registered: Wed Mar 15 2000
Posts: 15687
Loc: The Delta Quadrant
I've been watching this and from what I understand, the undercover officer/his car was struck by the car twice (the groom was driving). As they were leaving the club, one of the undercover officers heard the men talk about having a firearm while having an argument. There were multiple officers firing shots, which in a situation like that where there is a lot of confusion, could make the officers believe they were being fired upon when it was crossfire from other officers.
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