5 Years Later, Sean Bell's Fiancée Revisits Scene of Shooting

Friday, November 25, 2011

Nicole Paultre Bell Nicole Paultre Bell (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Standing in the rain, Nicole Paultre Bell returned to the street where her life changed. She examined a shiny new silver gate that she remembered was dented with bullet holes. It was here that her fiancé Sean Bell was shot 50 times by undercover police officers.

For many, his name is synonymous with senseless police violence. The 23-year-old was killed outside of a Queens Strip club in the early hours of November 25, 2006. Plain-clothed officers believed they’d heard the word “gun” spoken from someone in Bell’s party. Bell was killed, and two of his friends were badly injured. His fiancée was left just that, a fiancée.

Nicole Paultre Bell, now 27, has two daughters from Bell, Jordyn, 5, and Jada, 8. She recently moved out of her father’s home in Jamaica, Queens, where she’d lived with Bell, into her own place in Far Rockaway. She has started a non-profit called When It’s Real It’s Forever, and runs a little league team named after Sean Bell.

On Friday, she will head to the corner of Liverpool Street (now named Sean Bell Way) and 94th Avenue, to memorialize Sean Bell, as she does every year. Friends, family and community members will bring out laminated photos, candles and will ring a bell 50 times at 4:10 a.m., about the time Sean Bell was shot.

“That’s my time to think about everything that we’ve been through, everything that Sean went through that night just trying to make it home to his family, trying to make it home to get married the next day,” she said recently. “It really sets in at that point. And it’s hard, but it is for his memory, and for other people who fell victim to senseless violence.”

Nicole wears a small metal pin on her jacket that reads, “Sean Bell See You Later.” She said he always said that to people, especially on the phone. “If you said ‘Bye’ and hung up, he’d call you right back and say, ‘Don’t say that, say, see you later.’ We even put that on his tombstone. That was something that he lived by.”


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Comments [19]

Lil Bit

It's sad how some ppl could say bad things about someone who's not here no more Sean Bell was a son, father and brother who left behind a family to mourn him. He didn't think he wouldn't be able to see his family are not ever getting married...if you never lost a loved one by a gun then you don't know what the Hell it feels like to lose someone u love in that manner. In 2004 I lost my brother Michael to gun violence at the age of 23 the same age as Sean Bell. So instead of trying to figure out about a car being a damn weapon focused on 2 young girls who's father was ripped out their life due to some dumb ass cops who JUST WANTED TO KILL...well now they didn't that it's over, nah...Sean Bell's memory should stay alive for his kids n to save a life of another

Feb. 12 2014 09:10 PM
B from brooklyn

Wow I honestly am in shock at some of these comments. Looking for prostitutes?! Where would that come from and what does that have to do with anything? Bottom line is an innocent mans life was taken away by a policeman who made a poor assumption and decision. The victims didn't have a gun. The officer was wrong. Accused the victims of using there car as a weapon, my opinion he was wrong again. The officer was undercover... In his street cloths, how were the victims suppose to know he was truly a cop? Because he yelled it? There was no reason for this shooting. The officer did not act professional nor did he do the right thing. If he did he would not have gotton fired.

Sep. 19 2013 11:00 PM
MYNGNON Harris from Brooklyn NY

Nicole it's Nikki again live on keep doing the good you're doing it helps communities and helps you heal. I saw you grow up into a beautiful young woman Laura and Leslie have alot to be proud of your on my prayers keep doing what you doing love you Coley

Aug. 18 2013 10:37 AM
Ms Stover

It is ashame 51 shots were discharge and two people were injured and one was killed. There was no reason for all of these shots. People loses loved ones everyday and minute through illness or natural causes and people continue to grieve a life time and losing a loved one from violence, gunshot wounds is a tradegy and devastating and the night of your wedding day...unacceptable, one of officer should have had a positive discretion and have taken into consideration, remember we are at a club, where drinking occurs and people trying enjoy the moment, not conflicting.

Jul. 22 2013 11:37 AM
Reginald from NYC

To John from office.

It doesn't matter. When Sean Bell and his crew saw the lights flashing from a marked police car, the truth would have came out. And once again, everybody would have walked away alive. This is the point here.

Dec. 11 2011 02:27 PM
John from office

More excuses for bad behavior. The carr was the weapon, it was not speeding off.

Dec. 07 2011 07:39 AM
Reginald Jackson from NYC

Even if those guys were out there trying to pick up hookers,my conclusion is that the police should not be shooting at people because of their perceived low moral values. If the car sped off, those detectives was supposed to call for a marked police car to pick them up, give them a description of the vehicle and be done with it. Everybody would have went home safely.

Dec. 01 2011 09:47 AM
kevin from Brooklyn NY

The rage people are expressing is really sad. Someone was murdered by the police, that is fact. To spew venom and hatred towards his fiance, and to disparage her very being is truly sick, and hateful.
And sad. You should be ashamed of yourself.
And what right do you have making references to the color of the police in this case? Who cares what race the cops were!
Really sad.

Dec. 01 2011 01:34 AM

Sean Bell was not an innocent victim. He was a person armed with at least a motor vehicle leaving a strip club in a dangerous neighborhood. Why is WNYC invested in promoting the myth of the innocent bridegroom attacked by the "evil police"? It just doesn't square with reality, doesn't that bother WNYC at all?

Nov. 25 2011 07:06 PM

I'd like to see more media coverage of a little recognized additional tragedy highlighted by this story: unmarried relationships like Mr. and Ms. Bell's are not recognized in wrongful death cases. More on that here:

Nov. 25 2011 11:17 AM
Michael from home by midnight

Bell was armed, with an automobile. If you beleive an automobile is not dangerous, go to Flatbush Ave and walk in front of one, and see what happens.
All parties involved were at fault, from the friend who made the gun sign to the other club goer to the police LT. who hid in the car when the shotting started.

Nov. 25 2011 09:56 AM
John from office

I give up, maybe we should elect Nicole president, hey why not. Maybe we can bury Sean in Arlington and name a few more streets after him.

The good part of this is that years from now, no one will care.

Nov. 25 2011 09:39 AM
John from office.

Fuva, I followed the trial very closely. I know you prefer to believe that evil policemen (some non white) were looking to shoot innocent black men going to church, (after the strip club), but no, the facts are there, the past criminal records are there. I am not saying they should have been shot, I am saying that they do not deserve to be held up as heros.

Nov. 25 2011 09:25 AM
FU2 from CYN

We are moving into a time where the police are not going to escape punishment when they do something wrong. Granted when you see a white boy get clubbed or a white girl get pepper sprayed in her face the majority is outraged and things will happen. Still you can see a black male get shot, while handcuffed, lying on his stomach, by a police officer and have it filmed...and that cop will just get a suspension. For real change a black cop will have to pump 20-30 bullets into a young white boy/girl. Things will change after that. I find myself praying that it does happen. I TRULY DO !

Nov. 25 2011 09:24 AM
fuva from Harlemworld

CAUTION: Respond to the inane, irrelevant comments of 'john at the office' at your own risk. His consistent irrationality (How does he know where they were going? If they WERE going to where he claims they were going, this warrants them being shot multiple times and killed when unarmed?) has left him with the credibility of the troll he has become.

Nov. 25 2011 09:10 AM
Geo from astoria

If it was a white guy from a nice white neighborhood shot to death with 51 bullets discharged by the police it would be looked at very differently. That is a fact and that is all you gotta know.
Unfortunately people from underprivelaged neighborhoods are treated very differently by law enforcement, sometimes with just cause. But killing someone leaves a heavy mark on a community.

Nov. 25 2011 08:37 AM
john from office

"That’s my time to think about everything that we’ve been through, everything that Sean went through that night just trying to make it home to his family"

Sorry again, he was on his way to look for hookers with his buddies. Nicole is just sad she is locked out of any potential claims because she was not married to him yet. Have you noticed that Al Sharpton is no longer involved, that because there is no money to be made here.

What exactly qualifies her to run for office?? Why does WNYC take this seriously??

Nov. 25 2011 07:52 AM
John from office

Oh please, while the shooting may have been problematic and there is a question if the vehicle moving towards the officers called for deadly force, but lets not nominate Sean Bell for sainthood.

He and his buddys were out getting wasted before his marriage and were on their way to look for prositutes and all of the so called victims here here had criminal records and are looking to cash in on the civil suits. Sorry, Sean is no hero here. Just another poorly raised and groundless youth.

Nov. 25 2011 07:46 AM
tony ra from Brookyn NY

Why are you referring to Sean Bell as "Sean?" Do you refer to Ray Kelly as "Ray?" No.

Same w/ Nicole Bell. "Why does Nicole want to run for office?" "Well, Nicole thinks..."

These aren't children, friend. These are people who have experienced tragedy. Stop and think.

As for the assessment that the most significant thing abut the Sean Bell shooting is that it hasn't recurred, the issue isn't the 51 bullets. It's the police culture of intimidation, harassment and overreaction that still plays out in black and Latino communities and increasingly into white communities. And it still leads to the misapplication of deadly force.

Nov. 25 2011 07:02 AM

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