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Family Of Groom Shot Dead By Police Holds Vigil For Answers

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TWC News: Family Of Groom Shot Dead By Police Holds Vigil For Answers
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Family and friends of a 23-year-old man shot dead by police outside a Queens nightclub held a vigil Sunday afternoon, where some said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly should be removed from his position.

The vigil was held at Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica, where two of Sean Bell's friends, who were also shot by police, are still recovering. Friends and family walked around the hospital chanting, 'we want justice,' and said they are planning a large rally for December 6. One speaker suggested that Kelly should be removed from his position and added that there are no consequences for killing a black man.

Police say Bell, who was set to be married Saturday night, was driving away from his bachelor party at Club Kalua in Jamaica early Saturday morning when his car hit an undercover officer and then rammed into the back of another unmarked police van. The undercover officer was investigating the club for prostitution and narcotics.

Kelly says cops fired at least 50 shots at Bell's car, hitting him twice, and his friends Joseph Guzman at least 11 times and Trent Benefield three times. Guzman and Benefield are being treated for their injuries.

"Two officers in the minivan exited their vehicle and fired a total of 34 shots between them,” said Kelly. “One of the two, who was 12-year veteran of the department fired 31 times. The other a four-year veteran fired three times."

Police later found that the men were unarmed, but Kelly said it is too early to draw conclusions about the shooting.

Club Kalua has had a long list of problems with law enforcement. According to Kelly, the Jamaica nightspot was shut down for several months in 2005 under the city's nuisance abatement law. And, within the last year alone, Kelly says police received 26 911 calls from Kalua and made eight arrests for prostitution, weapons, and narcotics. The most recent bust happened just last Tuesday; one more violation would have shut down the club again.

Meanwhile friends, family, and community leaders want an explanation.

“I want to know what happened, that’s my question, that’s all I want to know, and nobody’s telling me anything” said Bell’s cousin, Robert Porter.

"We need some real answers, and we don't need fabrication,” said Reverend Al Sharpton at a press conference outside the hospital Saturday. “If in fact there were no life extenuating circumstances, then what was the cause of these multiple shots that have already resulted in one death. This family deserves answers and it deserves justice."

A grand jury will investigate the incident and the officers involved will not be questioned until prosecutors wrap up their investigation.
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