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Thread: NYPD officers aquitted after shooting unarmed man 50 times

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    NEW YORK - Three detectives were acquitted of all charges Friday in the 50-shot killing of an unarmed groom-to-be on his wedding day, a case that put the New York Police Department at the center of another dispute involving allegations of excessive firepower. Justice Arthur Cooperman delivered the verdict in a Queens courtroom packed with spectators, including victim Sean Bell's fiancee and parents, as at least 200 people gathered outside the building.
    The verdict provoked an outpouring of emotions: Bell's fiancee immediately walked out of the room, and his mother wept. Officer Michael Oliver, who fired the most shots, also cried.
    Outside the courthouse, which was surrounded by scores of police officers, many in the crowd began weeping after hearing the verdict. Others were enraged, swearing and screaming "Murderers! Murderers!" or "KKK!" Before announcing the verdict, the judge made a statement indicating that the police officers' version of events was more credible than that of the victims.
    "The people have not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that each defendant was not justified" in shooting the victims, Cooperman said.
    About the version of events offered by the victims and other prosecution witnesses, he said, "At times the testimony just didn't make sense."
    Bell, a 23-year-old black man, was killed in a hail of gunfire outside a seedy strip club in Queens on Nov. 25, 2006 — his wedding day — as he was leaving his bachelor party with two friends.
    Oliver, 36, and Gescard Isnora, 29, were charged with manslaughter while Officer Marc Cooper, 40, was accused only of reckless endangerment. Two other shooters weren't charged. Oliver squeezed off 31 shots; Isnora fired 11 rounds; and Cooper shot four times.
    A conviction on manslaughter could have brought up to 25 years in prison.


    Link to the full story is here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24305660/



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    If I fired 31 shots at an unarmed man, I would fry.

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    It was the heat of the moment. All 31 times. Don't you know that police officers have families to go home to? You can't hold them responsible for having to make split-second decisions (and more split-second decisions after each mag reload)... it's not like their job expects them to do that or anything.

    Don't get me started on how this is yet another casualty of the War on Immorality and Other Nouns.



    It's a shame, though, that cases like this of blatant excessive force are disregarded, while good LEOs get hassled and punished for justified shootings. And it's also a shame that uninvolved LEOs in the area where this shooting happened are going to have to face even more hostility from the community than before, due to this outcome.


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    I do not wish to debate if they were right or wrong. They have gone before the judge who has decided the case already.

    Often times when one cop starts shooting other cops will also start shooting. It is something that just happens. I believe they call it sympathetic shooting.

    You see one cop shooting and you think you need to either help him or fear that since you are in the immediate area you need to shoot to stop the threat so you are not killed.

    I see this on many police shooting videos on TV. Only one cop really needs to shoot but 2,3,4 or more will join in all lined up. I cannot explain it... I do not believe the line up to get a little trigger time.

    Most cops do NOT want to shoot someone. Having to be placed on leave and have your actions scrutinized sucks bad!!And these cops being taken to court for their actions. Cops think about this in the back on their mind but at the time when the first shot is fired you get the adrenalin dump and it is "fight or flight" time. Cops that do not run end up shooting.

    We all know that when you get the adrenalin dump your shooting goes to hell in a hand basket. Most cops empty their mag when they only intended to shoot of 4 or 5 rounds. They are shocked to see they emptied their mag and reloaded twice!!!

    And during that moment they cannot even shoot straight. you shoot till the threat has stopped and after the first few hits... if the bad guy has not dropped they keep shooting. Sure.. it is overkill but it is not really what they consciously intended to do.

    Cops do not shoot people in training so they have no idea how long it actually takes for a shot man to drop to the ground. She they keep shooting as they think they are missing him. And most of the time.... they are!!


    I see the following:

    Oliver fired 31 rounds

    Isnora fired 11 rounds

    Cooper fired 4 rounds

    But I do not see how many times the groom was actually hit. The total rounds divided by three people is not really that many. And only one guy actually reloaded one time.

    Anyone know how many times he was actually hit??

    And the article says50 rounds but 31 + 11 + 4 = 46

    We are missing4 rounds! But I think 50 rounds much more over the top. And the article sure sounds like they hit him "50 times." But yet we only have 46 shots so where the the 4th gunman on the grassy knoll

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    Leo 229, I don't doubt the adrenaline and everything else you've said, but what would happen to me if I emptied 3 mags into someone, even if they were trying to kill me?

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    I was waiting for this thread to spawn since I heard the news on the radio this afternoon.

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    "And the article says 50 rounds but 31 + 11 + 4 = 46

    We are missing 4 rounds! But I think 50 rounds much more over the top. And the article sure sounds like they hit him "50 times." But yet we only have 46 shots so where the the 4th gunman on the grassy knoll"


    There were two other officers involved in the shooting who were not charged.

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    asforme wrote:
    Leo 229, I don't doubt the adrenaline and everything else you've said, but what would happen to me if I emptied 3 mags into someone, even if they were trying to kill me?
    Oooh, Ooohh, lemme guess, lemme guess!!!

    Excessive use of force?

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    asforme wrote:
    Leo 229, I don't doubt the adrenaline and everything else you've said, but what would happen to me if I emptied 3 mags into someone, even if they were trying to kill me?
    Well, you, by yourself?

    If you shot someone 46 times.... (15 x 3) +1 and you hit each time?

    That could be overkill unless the guy kept getting up.

    As I mentioned.... I am not clear how many times the guy was hit. A person can shoot at a bad guy 50 times and miss each time. There is nothing wrong with having to keep shooting if the threat is still there and not dropping.

    What would happen to you? Public perception would be one thing just like the media is trying to craft here. But I am confident that if you were alone and taking action you would likely only shoot one magazine tops unless you kept missing and then you could go for your spare magazine.

    Remember... there were three detectives shooting in this case. IMO... One magazine each is not unreasonable. Three magazines by one person could happen if the guy was getting hit and did not fall to the ground.

    Remembering that cops are trained to keep shooting till the threat has stopped. I suspect they missed most of those shots and the guy simply did not drop as quickly as they expected.


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    How can you drop when your sitting in a car?


    http://www.wnbc.com/news/15990384/detail.html

    "It happened so quick," Isnora in his grand jury testimony. "It was like the last thing I ever wanted to do." 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, as the supervisor dived for cover. "We were all in shock," he said. "We thanked God that none of us were hit and we were going home."In his closing arguments, prosecutor Charles Testagrossa alluded to the starkly different views of the shooting. "If you are a police officer or sympathetic to police officers, the defendants are tragic heroes and the victims are thugs," he said. "If you are friends of the victims, then the defendants are murderers." None of the officers took the witness stand in his own defense.Cooperman heard transcripts of the officers testifying before a grand jury, saying they believed they had good reason to use deadly force. The judge also heard testimony from Bell's two injured companions, who insisted the maelstrom erupted without warning. Both sides were consistent on one point: The utter chaos surrounding the last moments of Bell's life. Bell's companions -- Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman -- also offered dramatic testimony about the episode. Benefield and Guzman were both wounded; Guzman still has four bullets lodged in his body. Referring to Isnora, Guzman said, "This dude is shooting like he's crazy, like he's out of his mind." The victims and shooters were set on a fateful collision course by a pair of innocuous decisions: Bell's to have a last-minute bachelor party at Kalua Cabaret, and the undercover detectives' to investigate reports of prostitution at the club. The party, according to Bell's friends, was boozy but uneventful. But the undercovers were jumpy. "I felt uncomfortable," testified Detective Hispolito "Hip" Sanchez, who with Isnora posed as a patron that night. "I just didn't feel good about it." As the club closed around 4 a.m., Sanchez and Isnora claimed they overheard Bell and his friends first flirt with women, then 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 -- "It's getting hot," he told his supervisor -- 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 Oliver at the wheel. The detective also alleged that Guzman made a sudden move as if he were reaching for a gun. "I yelled 'Gun!' and fired," he said. "In my mind, I knew (Guzman) had 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. "That's all there was -- gunfire," he said. "There wasn't nothing else." The truth emerged when the smoke cleared: There was no weapon inside Bell's blood-splattered car. After an ambulance was summoned, the shaken detectives gathered in the middle of the street -- a scene the supervisor described as "surreal." In closing arguments, defense attorneys accused prosecutors of building their case on the unreliable testimony of Bell's friends. They noted that Guzman and Benefield both have criminal records and $50 million lawsuits against the city. The pair were part of "a parade of convicted felons, crack dealers and men who were not strangers to weapons," said James Culleton, Oliver's attorney. A lawyer for Isnora, Anthony Ricco, portrayed his client as an unjustly vilified hero who had exercised "enormous restraint" before pulling the trigger. But Testagrossa depicted the detectives as cowboys who wildly overreacted to some harmless trash talk. He suggested Oliver was the worst offender. "Thirty-one shots," the prosecutor said. "Thirty-one separate pulls of the trigger. ... Thirty-one separate decisions to use deadly force. Thirty-one opportunities to pause and reassess whether continuing firing was necessary. "Thirty-one opportunities to save an innocent life."



    I know what would happen to me if I shot at a unarmed man 31 times. My butt would be in jail, protesters would be outside, I'd already be served with civil suit papers, all this while sharing a cell with someone named Tyrone.

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    OK.. so he was hit 31 times out of 46... or um 50?

    If he was sitting in his car that is going to make it harder to tell that they hit him with the desired results. There is going to be almost no indication since he has nowhere to go but fall on his side.

    It is sad... I do not know all the true details....

    "The detective also alleged that Guzman made a sudden move as if he were reaching for a gun. "I yelled 'Gun!' and fired," he said. "In my mind, I knew (Guzman) had a gun"

    Once a cop yells "gun".... this tells the other cops there is a real gun and can gives them a reason to fire. I cannot hold the other two responsible at all for getting bad information and taking appropriate action. He should NOT have yelled GUN if he never saw one.

    These situations suck when someone may be going for a gun. You do not want them to get a chance to draw on you. I have known a few shootings where the person was reaching after being told not to move. A cop has to believe it is in fact a gun and can kill him.

    The thing to learn from this is that if you are told "Don't move!" you may want to freeze in your tracks. You can be shot and not actually be armed. The police do not always have to wait to see you pointing a gun in their face. Yes... it is better if they can see the gun but by that time it can be too late for them. :shock:

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    He THOUGHT there was a gun? Sorry, but those cops should fry. Absolutely no excuse for this.
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    "OK.. so he was hit 31 times out of 46... or um 50?"

    Yes 50. The shots mentioned add up to 46, but 2 other officers that were not charged also discharged their weapon. That is where the extra 4 bullets came from.

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    LEO 229 wrote:
    The thing to learn from this is that if you are told "Don't move!" you may want to freeze in your tracks. You can be shot and not actually be armed. The police do not always have to wait to see you pointing a gun in their face. Yes... it is better if they can see the gun but by that time it can be too late for them. :shock:
    if at 4 in the morning 3 armed men in plain clothes with guns drawn ,come at me while i am in the car ...im definitely moving.

    you have to remember these guys were not in police uniform, and it is disputed if they identified themselves.

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    I just know that if a group of common citizens faced a perceived threat and reloaded to end that threat. We would be getting an up and close look at a prison cell.
    Subsisto tutus. Subsisto secundus emendatio.

    Tyrants come in all shapes and sizes, as do those who do their bidding. Anyone who tells you that the threat of tyranny is long over, is either a fool, an enemy, or BOTH.

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    I think most officers are good people who can think for themselves and make good decisions quickly. It's just that some blindly follow orders using any force necessary, and others have a god complex, and this gives all officers a bad name. I'm not sure which case applies here.

    I do know that officers are often held to different (miserably low) standards. If three of us pepper-sprayed a kid climbing a light pole, we'd do time. If five of us opened up on a car and fired near 50 rounds, our ship would be sunk. Sometimes an officer gets undeservedly sunk too. I'd like to see equal treatment for officers and non-officers--it would go a long way to helping citizens be more understanding.

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    LEO 229 wrote:
    OK.. so he was hit 31 times out of 46... or um 50?

    If he was sitting in his car that is going to make it harder to tell that they hit him with the desired results. There is going to be almost no indication since he has nowhere to go but fall on his side.

    It is sad... I do not know all the true details....

    "The detective also alleged that Guzman made a sudden move as if he were reaching for a gun. "I yelled 'Gun!' and fired," he said. "In my mind, I knew (Guzman) had a gun"

    Once a cop yells "gun".... this tells the other cops there is a real gun and can gives them a reason to fire. I cannot hold the other two responsible at all for getting bad information and taking appropriate action. He should NOT have yelled GUN if he never saw one.

    These situations suck when someone may be going for a gun. You do not want them to get a chance to draw on you. I have known a few shootings where the person was reaching after being told not to move. A cop has to believe it is in fact a gun and can kill him.

    The thing to learn from this is that if you are told "Don't move!" you may want to freeze in your tracks. You can be shot and not actually be armed. The police do not always have to wait to see you pointing a gun in their face. Yes... it is better if they can see the gun but by that time it can be too late for them. :shock:
    So they made a mistake and they should rot in prison just like Ryan Fredrick probably will for the mistake he made. This stuff will keep happening as long as police like these keep getting away with murder. Think of some of the LEO's we've all had to deal with then think of those ones having to make a split second decision like this.

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    I've worked with people who were/are fairly poor at their job, people with bad attitudes, people who steal from the company or other employees, we probably all have. I don't think police are any different, they have some bad apples.

    I don't think we should fry the good ones who make an honest mistake because of it. Everyone makes honest mistakes.

    My problem is with the use of excessive force on a regular basis. Sometimes an officer is justified in shooting an unarmed person, sometimes not. Officers often do a great job of verbally reducing the volatility of the situation, other times they use small-joint manipulation or dart or shoot someone when they could have waited a few minutes for the suspect to calm down.

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the trial was for excessive force, and not whether or not they were justified in shooting. I think they probably were justified in shooting....and as to whether or not it was excessive...I think so, but how can you draw the line? When you think you're life is in danger, can you fire only a certain number of shots to defend yourself?

    I really don't like the way things went down (cops shouldn't be shooting at unarmed people period...and firing so many rounds is dangerous) but should we really be punishing the cops? Was there some number of rounds that we would let them fire, and after that we start punishing them for each round over the number we're okay with?

    There was a shooting downtown near where I live, where a man pulled a gun at a bar and two police officers fired ~15 rounds at him. Two stray bullets hit a taxi cab, most missed, and I think only two actually hit the BG. Keep in mind this was downtown, which is a highly congested area, with tons of people around. I think cops need to try to find a balance between protecting themselves and the people around them (by shooting the BG's), and not firing so many rounds because this decreases the chances they will protect the innocents in the area, and increases the chances of them harming one of them. It's a hard line to draw, and while they weren't found guilty, I hope they (and cops in general) get a chance to learn from this and maybe rethink their tactics a bit.

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    LEO 229 wrote:
    Once a cop yells "gun".... this tells the other cops there is a real gun and can gives them a reason to fire. I cannot hold the other two responsible at all for getting bad information and taking appropriate action. He should NOT have yelled GUN if he never saw one.
    I can agree with that.

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    I recall reading something aboutthe dead guy saying "Go get my gun" or "I am going to go get my gun out of the car".. correct me if I am wrong here.

    So if I have it right... the first officer would have been justified in shooting when the guy reached for what he believed to be a gun. I recall some court rulings on this a few times that said when there is something to cause the officer to believe the person is armed and dangerous.. any furtive movements can be interpreted as going for a deadly weapon. Even if he did not have one.

    So based on what was being said the cop would be justified. The other cops there hear someone say "Gun" and thenfire based on what they believe to be credible information. It is NOT wrong for him to call out "Gun" but is going to always be taken as you actually SAW a gun.

    Did they fire several rounds? Not really. Only one guy reloaded and he was the one that saw the threat first hand.

    The "50" rounds are from five officers. If you consider that there could have been far more round..... 5 * ((15 * 2) + 1) = 155 available rounds.

    Now THAT would have been excessive.

    Just like 3 guns is not an arsenal.....


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    "Sympathetic Shooting" is a nice softer term and akin to calling what sharks do when they smell blood "Sympathetic Feeding".

    This needs to be called what it was - a"Shooting Frenzy"



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    imperialism2024 wrote:
    LEO 229 wrote:
    Once a cop yells "gun".... this tells the other cops there is a real gun and can gives them a reason to fire. I cannot hold the other two responsible at all for getting bad information and taking appropriate action. He should NOT have yelled GUN if he never saw one.
    I can agree with that.
    I can't. Even if owning or carrying a gun is illegal here, how does the mere presence of a gun justify his death? I have a gun as do most people on this board, that's what we're here to talk about. I will also tell you that if the entire nation became a gun free zone, I might still have a gun, because my life is worth more than the law. Is that alone justification for officers to shoot me?

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    asforme wrote:
    imperialism2024 wrote:
    LEO 229 wrote:
    Once a cop yells "gun".... this tells the other cops there is a real gun and can gives them a reason to fire. I cannot hold the other two responsible at all for getting bad information and taking appropriate action. He should NOT have yelled GUN if he never saw one.
    I can agree with that.
    I can't. Even if owning or carrying a gun is illegal here, how does the mere presence of a gun justify his death? I have a gun as do most people on this board, that's what we're here to talk about. I will also tell you that if the entire nation became a gun free zone, I might still have a gun, because my life is worth more than the law. Is that alone justification for officers to shoot me?
    Eh, I was moreso referring to the sentiment that once the first LEO has identified a threat, the others are relying on his assessment that there is a dangerous person that needs to be neutralized. The other two LEOs can't be expected to say, "Wait, hold on a second, I'm not entirely sure what you're saying is correct. Let's reassess the situation together." I'll gladly blame the LEO who started it, so to speak, but the others were reacting to what they were led to believe was a life-or-death situation (for the LEOs at least).

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    imperialism2024 wrote:
    asforme wrote: Eh, I was moreso referring to the sentiment that once the first LEO has identified a threat, the others are relying on his assessment that there is a dangerous person that needs to be neutralized. The other two LEOs can't be expected to say, "Wait, hold on a second, I'm not entirely sure what you're saying is correct. Let's reassess the situation together." I'll gladly blame the LEO who started it, so to speak, but the others were reacting to what they were led to believe was a life-or-death situation (for the LEOs at least).
    I will agree with that, police officers need to be able to depend on and trust each other without fear of being hung out to dry.

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