Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
Dismissed Sean Bell Cop Plans Legal Action: Lawyer
Monday, March 26, 2012
A New York City detective who was fired on Friday for his role in connection to the 2006 shooting death of an unarmed man as he left his bachelor party plans to pursue legal action, according to his lawyer Philip E. Karasyk.
Detective Gescard Isnora, an 11-year-veteran, will also forfeit his pension — the financial equivalent up to $2 million dollars plus benefits over his lifetime had he remained on the force for the mandatory 20 years of service, said Karasyk.
“The decision by the police commissioner was arbitrary and capricious,” said Karasyk, who is evaluating Isnora’s options under state and federal law.
Isnora was one of the officers who shot and killed Sean Bell and injured two others following an altercation outside a Queens strip club where Bell had his bachelor party. Isnora claimed he opened fire first because he thought the men were trying to retrieve a gun.
An internal police trial completed in November 2011 found Isnora acted recklessly and recommended dismissal. He was tried along with police officer Michael Carey, who was also involved in the 2006 shooting. Carey was found to have acted properly.
Isnora, along with Dets. Michael Oliver and Marc Cooper, was tried on criminal charges and acquitted by Judge Arthur J. Cooperman in April 2008. The Justice Department also opted not to file charges of civil rights violations against the detectives related to the incident.
Cooper, a 20-year-veteran, and Oliver, an 18-year-veteran, submitted letters of resignation Monday, pursuant to a settlement negotiated by the Detectives Endowment Association, confirmed DEA head Michael Palladino. Those officers will keep their pensions. However, Oliver , who is two years shy of the 20 year service mark, will receive an adjusted pension and will have to wait two more years.
Palladino was pushing for all the officers to keep their desk-duty positions on the force, since they were all cleared on criminal charges. But he says the police department would not would not agree to those terms.
“It seems to me that the NYPD was predetermined to fire Jessie Isnora and simply used the trial process to back into that determination,” argued Palladino who called the firing both unprecedented and excessive.
Palladino said the negotiations governing the settlement for Det. Oliver and Cooper took place last fall, and said the officers have known that they were going to need to resign, but that it was up to the police department to call on the officers to submit their official resignation.
Lt. Gary Napoli, a supervisor officer on scene that night is expected to submit his resignation Tuesday.
No one from the NYPD responded to repeated requests for comment.