Friday marks 10 years since one of the city's most infamous police shootings, where a Queens man was gunned down on his wedding day. The former fiancee of Sean Bell sat down with NY1's Dean Meminger to talk about how her life has changed in the past decade.
It was supposed to be her wedding day, but it ended up being the worst day of Nicole Paultre-Bell's life.
Just hours before she was to marry Sean Bell, he was shot dead by NYPD detectives in a hail of 50 bullets.
"Everyone who had come to town to celebrate the wedding with us stayed for his funeral," Paultre-Bell said. "It was not only traumatic for me, it was traumatic for the entire family. And still is."
Friday morning marks 10 years since one of the city's most horrific and controversial police shootings.
Sean Bell and his friends were celebrating at his bachelor party at a Queens club when police say they thought he had a gun.
As they went to approach him in his Nissan, undercover detectives say he tried to ram them with it. They fired 50 shots, killing the soon-to-be groom.
Two of his friends in the car were injured. No gun was found.
"I've learned to accept. I've learned to be able to live. Because if I were to hold onto that bitterness, it would just eat away like cancer," Paultre-Bell said. "I've had to show my daughters a mother who is not bitter."
There was a state trial for three of the detectives involved. A judge found them not guilty. The Justice Department decided against a federal trial.
Meminger: Ten years later, would you be willing to speak to any of the officers?
Paultre-Bell: Absolutely. Although I don't think they would be willing to talk to me. But absolutely. You know, I am raising two daughters. Jada and Jordyn Bell, their father is Sean Bell. For the rest of their life, they are going to carry this story with them, no matter where these officers are now. Maybe they are not even thinking of us. I don't know.
Ten years later, Paultre-Bell says old wounds are reopened every time she hears of another unarmed black man killed by police.
"It is like, 'Oh my gosh,' again," she said. "And for my daughters, it is a conversation I have to have, because we live in the era of social media."
And that's often a difficult conversation with the two daughters she had with Sean. One is 10 years old. The other is soon to be 14, and she's very aware of recent cases.
"When there is a highly publicized police shooting, her father's name is brought up again. And sometimes, she may be tagged in a post, or her friends may be talking about it at school," Paultre-Bell said. "And it is tough."
Paultre-Bell, who is married now and has another daughter. says she wants her children to trust police, but admits for her family. that is not always easy to do.
She's encouraged by the NYPD and other police departments admitting there needs to be more community policing strategies to improve the troubled relationship between officers and African-Americans.
"It is a baby step in the right direction. It is," she said. "I can only hope that there is so much more done."
On Thanksgiving night at 11 p.m., Paultre-Bell and other family members will gather on Sean Bell Way in Jamaica, Queens to remember his life. At 4 a.m. Friday, they will ring a bell 50 times to reflect the number of shots police fired on that day 10 years ago.