"The tragedy unfolded outside the Kalua Cabaret, where the undercover officers were investigating reports of prostitution the night of Bell's boozy party.
[ginger says: boozy party? were the 'suspects' then drunk? if so, why were they allowed to get as far as the car? Doesn't NY have a law that would hold the establishment liable for DUIs & accidents? I can't imagine them letting a patron drive if he were obviously drunk]
As the club closed around 4 a.m., Sanchez and Isnora claimed they overheard Bell and his friends taunt a stranger, who responded by putting his right hand in his pocket as if he had a gun. Guzman, they testified, said, 'Yo, go get my gun' — something Bell's friends denied.
Isnora said he decided to arm himself, call for backup and tail Bell, Guzman and Benefield as they went around the corner and got into Bell's car.
He claimed that after warning the men to halt, Bell pulled away, bumped him and rammed an unmarked police van that converged on the scene with [officer] Oliver at the wheel.
He said Guzman made a sudden move as if he were reaching for a gun.
Benefield and Guzman testified that there were no orders.
Instead, Guzman said, Isnora 'appeared out of nowhere' with a gun drawn and shot him in the shoulder — the first of 16 shots to enter his body.
With tires screeching, glass breaking and bullets flying, the officers claimed that they believed they were the ones under fire. Oliver responded by emptying his semiautomatic pistol, reloading, and emptying it again.
The truth emerged when the smoke cleared: There was no weapon inside Bell's blood-splattered car."
Okay - I lived thru the so-called 'Rodney King Trials' (even thought King was not the one on trial), I was a young mom who sat holding her newborn in her lap as the riots broke out in LA and word circulated that the local police authorities were preparing for riots of their own.
This is scary .... really scary. I do not want to go thru this again. not for my children, not for my adult son, nor any of the kids he grew up with who were too young to realize what it all meant the first time 'round!
I went thru the turbulent 60's & 70's during the civil rights unrest ... not the movement itself ... but I lost several good friends over ill-feelings on both sides of the issue. I was actually kicked out of a friends house because of the color of my skin! her mother came home after her sister had said it was okay for me to stay and play (her sister was much older) and her mom called my friend into the hallway and I can remember hearing her being asked 'what that +++child was doing in their house?' and a few other choice words,, and then next thing I knew my friend was sending me home because I didn't look like her.
She became friends with our neighbors - my second and third best friends at the time, they were adopted twins - and their parents became good friends too. Next thing I knew they were sharing the same attitudes...suddenly my skin made me undesirable. my hair was wrong, my clothes were funny, the way I talked was wierd ... all sorts of taunting on the playground.
You know that sort of thing. I don't remember the Watts riots, I don't remember the Democratic convention - I just remember my own childhood.
I remember my brothers coming home beaten up because a group of kids cornered them in the hall .... I remember words being bantered that were repeated by other kids not realizing how much they hurt.
But the aftermath of Rodney King -- Yeah I remember that!!
Okay -- here's what I think happened. As tragic as it was the cops were undercover looking for trouble within the club. One officer saw something that looked suspicious to him. Now I don't know how prevelent it is around NY, but around here it isn't uncommon to joke with a good friend 'get my gun' when they burn you good with a pleasant taunt. It may have been the case, it may not have. The cop thought he heard it so he followed.
Okay so far up to this point--this is where things gets crazy.
The first backup vehicle on the scene is the van, who I can see trying to cut off the car from leaving causing a crash .... the occupants in the car would have lunged forward from impact. The officer may have taken this as a reason to pull his gun to hold the suspects in the car.
The driver not looking at the cop off the curb, being distracted by the van, would have gone for his insurance card -- the passenger would have noticed the cop and may have even pointed in some fashion to call the drivers attention (I don't know how loud the music was in the club, but if it was loud enough their ears may have been phased enough not to hear the cop call for them to halt -- or the cop may not have yelled at all in the rush to stop the precieved perps from getting away) ... which the cop could have interrupted as the raising of a weapon.
With the first shot, Oliver would have pulled his weapon as well, seeing the driver going for the insurance card or his drivers liscense, could have thought he was reaching for a weapon (remember the call for back up would have decribed them as possibly armed).
But to empty your gun and then reload it and fire off another half a clip???
No that was extensive!!!!!
I'm not so sure this was racially motivated as it was simply a stupid misinterpretation of the events.
Should the cops get off 'scot free', at least as the public would see it? NO. There is no reason to empty your clip into a suspect unless they are the incredible hulk or something.
These were people sitting in a car...a confined area...one was already shot thru the windshield once (at least by the description of the events). The vehicle was damaged they weren't going to go anywhere. they could have very easily have held them at bay while other back up arrived on scene.
Did they shoot him? Yes. Did they kill him? Yes. Are they criminally liable? that I'm not so sure of. Excessive use of a firearm - definately. But the question is 'did the cops reasonably feel their lives were in eminate peril?' -- that means crawling into the cops minds at the time.
I think there is enough reasonable doubt to preclude a clear conviction.
It is too bad that there wasn't any servallience cameras going at the time -- or some sort of recording devise on the cop that was actually in the club doing the undercover work. This would at least answer enough of the questions to help make a better judgement.
The problem is ... NY has been under terrible tension ... a lot of incidences of shooting involving black/whites. It could boil over, whether the organizers of the 'peaceful resistance' mean for it to or not. All it takes is for one person on either side of the issue to make one mistake and you will have a riot on your hands (lest not forget Kent State).
The news article says it all depends on whether you support cops or not ... NO IT DOESN'T. It depends on how you interprete the facts.
I support cops .... I think they are very necessary for our well being and we can't get along without them ... and that they are underappreciated until you need one ... that being said:
I think the cops in this case over reacted. I can not say with certainly that it was murder in the first degree ... but definately they should have gotten the manslaughter charge. As for the officer who only fired 4 shots? I don't know why he is even on trial -- four shots I think is reasonable concidering the atmosphere he was in at the time, I think he showed incredible restraint - although it does show that he realized early on that shots were not coming from within the car.
I hope the feds DO step in and investigate this matter. I think it is really necessary that they do. And I think they need to do so ASAP to avoid any appearance of trying to sweep it under the rug.