Sharpton Helps Lead Rally In Protest Of Groom Shooting
By: NY1 News
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Community leaders called for answers a day after a young Queens groom was killed by police fire. NY1's Shazia Khan filed the following report.
Protesters counted until 50 — the number of shots police fired outside a Queens club early Saturday morning.
Sean Bell, 23, died in the barrage of bullets. His friends, 31-year-old Joseph Guzman and 23-year-old Trent Benefeld remain in Mary Immaculate Hospital, where Sunday, Reverend Al Sharpton and Councilman Charles Barron organized a vigil.
Hundreds came out to the demonstration, including family members of the victims. Sharpton called for the suspension of the five undercover officers involved in the shooting and demanded they be stripped of their guns.
“We do not need anyone to tell us that 50 shots — one cop reloading — we don't need to wait for their guns to be taken,” said Sharpton.
Bell, who was supposed to marry his high school sweetheart and mother of his two children Saturday night, was leaving Kalua Cabaret in Jamaica, when police say he got into a dispute.
Police say Bell then got into his car with his friends and hit an undercover cop and an unmarked police van, both part of a team investigating the club for narcotics and prostitution.
That's when five officers fired off the 50 rounds. No gun was found in Bell's car and police commissioner Ray Kelly says it's still too early to say if the shooting was justified.
Councilman Barron says that's not enough and is calling for Kelly's resignation and much more.
“I am fed up. I'm not asking my people to do anything passive anymore,” said Barron. “We're going to sit here and we're going to go in there, we’re gonna pray, we’re gonna march, we're going to do all of that stuff and then we are going to sit down and if they don't respond to none of that, don't ask us to ask our people to be peaceful while they are being murdered. We're not the only ones that can bleed.”
Meanwhile, 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, is saying it has no confidence in Kelly and is calling for a review of the officers and procedures of the Organized Crime Control Bureau and the immediate removal of its chief, Anthony Izzo.
“Fifty rounds is an enormous number of rounds to be fired in a civilized community and as I stated, especially when individuals in the vehicle weren't returning the fire,” said Noel Leader of 100 Black in Law Enforcement. “So the huge number of rounds and the mere fact the individuals didn't have a weapon is what outrages and concerns a lot of individuals.”
Community leaders are also calling for a permanent special prosecutor for police misconduct.
— Shazia Khan