Sean Bell’s Killers Are Not Going to Face Trial

Steve Gilliard must be spinning in his grave at this news, because it was Topic A at the old News Blog before he died, and in New York for weeks and weeks. Remember that case?

From Dr. Boyce Watkins:

Federal officials are not planning to pursue charges against the officers involved in the shooting death of Sean Bell, an unarmed young black man who was set to be married the following day. The officers fired more than 50 shots in to a car that held Bell and his friends, when the officers supposedly thought the men were retrieving a gun. No gun was ever recovered.

The officers were undercover, and the shooting sparked outrage throughout the black community. […] Prosecutors claim that there was “insufficient evidence” that Bell’s civil rights were violated. Three officers were acquitted in 2008, including Michael Oliver, an officer who reloaded his gun while shooting 31 of the 50 shots that went in to the car.

Bell’s family and his fiance, Nicole Paultre-Bell, were saddened and disappointed by the decision. They’d asked federal officials to become involved after the original acquittal.

“Why didn’t they take a chance and go with a jury,” Bell’s father, William Bell said. “They say they didn’t have enough to go with the evidence. What kind of message are they sending kids? It’s open season. They can do what ever they want.

Why isn’t Obama’s Justice Department not wanting to touch this with a barge pole? Ominously, Dr. Watkins, himself the son of a policeman, charges that President Obama and Attorney General Holder are only concerned with playing pattycake with law enforcement, while keeping their jobs. I know Obama and Holder are trying to keep themselves above race politics, but this incident cannot be reduced to having beer at the White House patio.

What’s most interesting about the Sean Bell shooting is that while federal prosecutors are refusing to get involved in the case, there has been no serious explanation to the public regarding why the officers should not be charged. There is no conversation about what avenues of police discretion allow these officers to shoot dozens of bullets at unarmed citizens, reload their guns and continue firing. I want questions answered, and the idea that this case is going to come to an end without any closure for the American people is incredibly disturbing.

This sounds exactly like “the failure to get involved” of the L.A. branch of the F.B.I. They’ve refused to investigate the disappearance of Mitrice Richardson. While Mitrice, of course, was not shot to death like Bell, she certainly was “disappeared” by L.A. County sheriff’s deputies when she was let go with no cell phone, no coat, no transportation and no identification after her apprehension at Geoffrey’s Restaurant. And then when her aggrieved parents tried to get the F.B.I. to intervene, they’re not interested in investigating the disappearance of someone who definitely isn’t white, blonde and straight. I suspect that there may be some rather incestuous connections between the L.A. law enforcement community and the F.B.I. branch. What do I mean? I think that there may be some L.A. cops or deputies who have graduated to the F.B.I., or that some friendships would have to be irretrievably broken if the F.B.I. were to get involved, but there could be something more to this.

In these cases, the perpetrators are almost always exonerated in the minds of the powers-that-are in their communities, which leads to acquittals. The Oscar Grant killing by a former Oakland BART cop is also a case in point. The BART cops as well as the media were practically bending over backwards to show Johannes Mehserle in a positive light to the Bay Area, with the now-retired BART police chief actually coordinating efforts to raise money for Mehserle’s family. Even his flight to Nevada–which demonstrates guilt as well as his being a flight risk–is brushed off.

The New York Times reported that this is not yet completely over:

Of the five who opened fire — Detectives Gescard F. Isnora, Michael Oliver, Marc Cooper and Paul Headley and Officer Michael Carey — all but Detective Headley remain on desk duty, with no gun and shield, said Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman. Lt. Gary Napoli, the supervising officer that night, is also on desk duty, he said, facing internal charges of failing to supervise the operation.

Two other officers, Detective Robert Knapp and Sgt. Hugh McNeil of the Crime Scene Unit, were also charged internally, the detective with failing to thoroughly process the crime scene and the sergeant with failing to ensure that thorough processing was done.

If internal charges are substantiated, some of the officers could be fired. Mr. Browne said that the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, would not comment on the matter because “he is the final arbiter” of any punishment.

Detectives Isnora, Oliver and Cooper were acquitted by a Queens judge in April 2008 of criminal charges. The two other officers who opened fire were not charged criminally.

On Tuesday, federal officials met with Mr. Bell’s family; his fiancée, Nicole Paultre Bell; and others to tell them of their decision. Later, many in the Bell family and their supporters expressed disappointment in a news conference at the headquarters of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.

Ms. Paultre Bell said she hoped to get the attention of the White House. “There is a history of black men being killed by police officers, and something needs to be done,” she said. “We’re hoping to eventually meet with President Obama, and that he’ll do something, because this is a national problem.”

I really doubt Obama or his handlers would want to meet with the Bells or Bell’s fiancée. If they do, the family will probably come up against double-talk or soothing BS, probably because Al Sharpton is the family adviser in this case. Sharpton is known as an ambulance chaser, and an attention getter, and I certainly don’t approve of everything he’s been up to. But the reason why Sharpton has so much pull as a political figure is because black New Yorkers know who you gonna call if something like this happens. Nobody else seems to stand up for them, not even the authorities.

I know that this is speculation on my part. However, possible reining-in of the FBI and Justice sounds more like a political move rather than a justice call by the handlers. And I think that I know the reason why. If the Obama Administration goes after cases like this, the hotheads and wingnuts will be stirred up to say that Obama doesn’t support police and instead, supports crime and anarchy. All on the dead bodies of guys who were trying to get home in one piece after a bachelor’s party, or who were really cooperating with police.

~ by blksista on February 17, 2010.

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