Friday, April 25, 2008

Justice unserved

I just received word that three NYPD detectives; charged with killing an unarmed black man just hours before his wedding; were just acquitted. The judge found the officers -- two black and one white -- not guilty, despite evidence showing that they shot at the victim, Sean Bell and his two friends, over 50 times.

50 gunshots at an unarmed man...

...and the officers walked....

...without so much as a slap on the wrist.

I haven't heard a story of denied justice this insane since the 41-shot killing of immigrant Amadou Diallo. I'll concede to one point: I don't know all the facts in the case. I've heard that Bell and his friends were unruly and belligerent toward the officers. But at the worst, that's an offense punishable by a couple of hours in jail; not a death sentence. Shooting semi-automatic firearms 50 times only means one thing: they were out for blood. And they got it.

...and they walked.

That's justice for you.

- ACL

20 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

KC said...

Dre,

I've been following this case and let me assure you that Bell and his boys weren't exactly alter boys. That doesn't justify their losing their lives, but it explains to some extent why the officers would respond that way. Besides that, one of the men was suspected of having a gun. The officers all testified on the stands that one of them called for it.

The Diallo case was definitely a travesty to justice. This case, while tragic, is not so much.

Miss G ;) said...

Handsome ,
That is an example of the scales of the justice system out of control , sounds like the peace keepers got personal , 50 times is over ,over kill!!

Greeneyes

Andre said...

@ KC: Like I said, I'm not sure of all the facts of the case; especially as it relates to Mr. Bell and his crew. I do at least know that one of the dude's had a record; which was important when his credibility as a witness came into play. But from all the accounts I've read, none mentioned that a gun was actually found. If that's the case, the officers mistakenly killed an unarmed name. Intentional or not, a 'mistake' like that should not go unpunished.

To me, their acquittal represents the idea that police can accidentally take lives and not be forced to deal with any of the consequences associated with.

@ Greeny: My lady, you've got more psedonyms than the average bear. :)

Cynthia said...

I agree Andre. If I were at work and I made a crucial mistake, I doubt very much that I'd be given as much leniency as these officers. They dodged a bullet even when their victims were not so lucky to do so.

Andre said...

"They dodged a bullet even when their victims were not so lucky to do so."

Sums up my argument.

thehc said...

Hey Dre,
I found several things very interesting about this case. First; Almost all the coverage of the story omits this part; (via New York Times)-"Further, trial testimony showed that Mr. Bell may have played some role, however unwitting, in the shooting, as he was drunk by legal standards when he pressed down on the accelerator of his fiancĂ©e’s Nissan Altima and struck Detective Isnora in the leg in an attempt to flee." Not a justification for such a overreaction, but it is an interesting thing to leave out.
Second; It seems odd that it's reported as "racially motivated" when 2 of the 3 officers were black. ???
Finally; I just got back from the city of Clare where everyone is very upset about the shooting of a retarded man. (http://www.clarecountyonline.com/?p=131) My friend David knows the family and the man (white and 51) who was shot. He says the hatchet was in a sheath and that witnesses said that he was waving it around but not attacking when he was shot multiple times. His parents claim he was very passive, but would freak out around flashing lights. It's very interesting how one story gets so much press but the other gets none. We should all forget about color (which only divides us) and focus on why police so vastly overreacted on both fronts. But then again, race sells newspapers and keeps us tuned in, which is what they're banking on.

Andre said...

@ Hippie:

A couple of things: (1) As you can tell, I moved your response to this post just to avoid confusing my other two readers. It was strange to see your comment in a post about Alicia Keys and her conspiracy theories (though, I guess you could make an argument that the stories are mildly related). :)

But (2) to address the real issue: I never painted Bell out to be somebody I'd put in charge of mentoring inner city youth. As I said, some of the accounts I read indicated that Bell and his boys agitated the officers (who were undercover, by the way. Just thought I'd throw that in...). But one of the officers testified that he thought he saw one of Bell's friends pull a gun. But nary a gun was found. In the Clare case, at the least the guy was brandishing a clear and noticeable weapon. Mental retardation is not as readily perceivable as a person swinging a hatchet. But all that aside, this is another tragic example of trigger happy cops who shoot first, ask questions later. My ultimate point was: cops are making "mistakes" in judgement, killing people, and getting less than a slap on the wrist for it. How long will these mistakes go unpunished? What kind of training is being done to ensure that human error is as minimized as possible during these instances? From the string of wrongful deaths, I wouldn't say there's much being done.

FYI: As unfair as this may sound, Bell's story was far more likely to get attention because it involved the all too common tale of a dead or abused young black man, police, and a major city as opposed to a mentally retarded, old white man in Clare County. I'm feeling you on the coverage issue, but know that the media goes after what will get the most ratings. Sorta how missing white women seem to get more attention than anything else/any other group in the country.

nic said...

@HC: I've been following this a bit, & have yet to see this being tagged as racially related. After all, as you've already stated, the authorities involved w/ the shooting were a mix of varying ethnicities. This story got the coverage it did because the guy was gunned down on the eve of his wedding, in a HAIL of bullets, in a city that has had a number of similar incidents.

Believe what you want about the victim, but when just ONE officer fires his weapon 31 times, as in this case, you can't deny that there was, @ the very least, gross misconduct.

-n

heiresschild said...

and people keep wondering why the world is in the chaos it's in. forty-one bullets from one officer, four from another, and 15 from another is more than extreme. one thing about it, what goes around comes around--people reap what they sow. regardless of Bell and his friends' reputations, that many bullets was uncalled for. the officers know the truth, and while they may have escaped justice here, they'll pay in other ways. take my word for it.

j. alex said...

You can tell it's a sign of the times when an officer can get demoted for giving a mayor's mother-in-law a ticket (http://www.catt.com/article.php?story=20060316152345920), but don't even get a slap on the wrist for killing an unarmed man. Sure, they'll have to live with this for the rest of their lives, but that's ALL they'll have to do.

Megan said...

I try to support law enforcement whenever possible. But in situations like this, I simply can not. There was NO NEED to shoot at a person 31 times! It was so bad that he had to reload for crying out loud! I understand the circumstances that may have put them on the defensive, but these officers are trained to handle adverse situations. This was nothing short of excessive and deserving of SOME sort of punishment.

Anonymous said...

Andre, I'm starting to remember your words. Paraphrased: "Kill a dog, go to jail (Mike Vick). Kill an unarmed man, get an acquittal." I think you used this idea in reference to the preacher-killing wife. But you can apply that logic here too.

The H.C. said...

@Dre,
LOL, thanks for moving my comment. I'm always curious as to why some stories get so much attention while others do not, including your example of missing white women. You may dismiss the case in Clare if you like, but this guy was shot 11 times-so I see a simularity, and that being overreaction. Why not shoot him in the leg? Or tazer him? The people in Clare were protesting in the streets-and no nation coverage.
@ Nic,
The racial angle that I'm hearing is more related to the fact that black people are more likely to be shot, not so much who did the shooting.

Andre said...

@ Sylv: I think it was 31 shots from one guy. But I get your point. It was excessive. I mean, reloading...?!?!

How's your friend? I'm praying for you both. :)

@ J. Alex: *Shakes my head* I never heard that story. I'm hoping that there's more to it other than giving the mayor's family a ticket. I hope this cop was also a drunk, a pedophile, and threatened to kill a senator or something. If not, it's a travesty that he could get fired for following procedure that only INCONVENIENCED someone (who was breaking the law); while people who KILLED an innocent man get to walk.

@ Megan: You took the words right out of my mouth. Or -- since you responded first -- vice versa.

@ Anonymous: Wow! People actually listen what I say and cite it. I feel important.

@ HC: First point: I'm not dismissing the Clare case. I think it's an outrage. I'm talking about the MSM who decide what's newsworthy and what's not. Nic did a pretty good job of explaning why the Bell case is receiving so much attention.

Second point: I agree that rather than being trained to "shoot to kill", officers should be trained more on the art of incapacitating the suspect. I can imagine how hard it may be to delivering a crippling, but not life-taking shot, but they need to be trying that. Leaving body counts and then saying "Uh...what had happened wuz..." is not the way to enforce the law.

Megan said...

MSM? Is that a technical term?

Andre said...

I'm sorry: MSM = mainstream media.

Greeneyes said...

Thank you YoGI,

BOO BOO ;)

LOL! my Bear Behind off !!!!!!

G

Mike said...

I'll try to give the officers the benefit of the doubt and say that the police really did think that Bell was armed. Did that warrant 50 shots? Are 50 shots NOT enough when you're not being fired at?

Better question: would this have happened to a drunk frat boy who was hassling the police?

Andre said...

"I'll try to give the officers the benefit of the doubt and say that the police really did think that Bell was armed. Did that warrant 50 shots?"

In a word, nope.

"Better question: would this have happened to a drunk frat boy who was hassling the police?"

In another word, nope.

Kenya said...

Andre,

While we're talking about the injustice in this case, why aren't people addressing the rampant black-on-black crime that continues to pervade our society?

People get OUTRAGED with righteous indignation when it comes to police officers kill unarmed men (which I guess you can argue is a symbol of systemic oppression against minorities even if the officers ARE people of color), but nobody is saying anything about the thousands of innocent people killed in the streets each year. Where's THAT outrage?