U.S. News

NYPD forces out four officers in Sean Bell shooting

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York police detective has been fired and three other members of the department were forced to retire for their roles in the shooting of an unarmed man who died in a hail of bullets after his bachelor party in 2006, a department spokesman confirmed on Saturday.

Sean Bell, 23, who was black, was killed and two friends severely wounded when police fired 50 bullets at them after a bachelor party at a strip club early on his wedding day.

Bell’s shooting drew outrage and criticism from black community leaders, who said it was evidence of the police department’s groundless use of racial profiling and excessive force.

Gescard Isnora, the detective who fired the first shot at Bell, has been dismissed. Marc Cooper and Michael Oliver, both detectives who also fired shots at Bell, and Gary Napoli, the commanding officer on the night of the shooting, are being forced to resign following department hearings.

“There was nothing in the record to warrant overturning the decision of the department’s trial judge,” Paul Browne, a police spokesman, said in an email.

Isnora, working undercover, followed Bell and his friends to Bell’s car believing they went to fetch a gun to settle a dispute at the club. He opened fire after being grazed by the car as Bell attempted to drive away.

The other officers reached Bell’s car after the initial confrontation and said they believed Isnora was being fired at from inside the vehicle.

In 2008, a New York state judge acquitted Isnora and Oliver, who had been charged with manslaughter, and Cooper, who had been charged with reckless endangerment.

Following an investigation, the U.S. Justice Department declined to bring criminal civil rights charges against the officers.

Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by David Bailey and Tim Gaynor