Sean Bell Verdict: What Do You Think?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A verdict is expected tomorrow in the Sean Bell police trial. Michael Wilson, covering the trial for the New York Times, joins us as we open the phones.

What do you expect the ruling to be? Comment below.


Michael Wilson

Comments [32]

Dennis Condon from Brooklyn,NY

Almost everyone friend that I have that was going to get married went to a strip club of some sort for a bachelor party,so if thats a crime than there should be a lot more of us in jail. Having said that, if these guys really were up to something or had a criminal history there would be no story, there would be no comment page. It would have been just another bad guy removed from society. The officers really screwed up and should be punished. If you don't look like an upstanding citizen then it's your fault for getting shot at thirty times right?

Apr. 28 2008 02:38 AM
Chris from Jersey City

I have serious concerns about police drinking in bars to be able to "look the part" when they are undercover. Are these not the same people who arrest us if we have been drinking and driving? How many drinks does it take to fail the breathalizer anyhow - 1?!

Besides the fact that the NYPD is pumped full of steroids, do we really need them to be - DRINKING AND CARING GUNS!!!

How disgusting it was to hear these officers thank "Jesus Christ", their saviour, for the non guilty verdicts. Let us suppose Jesus Christ existed today, would he have "Saved" these officers or Sean?

Seems to me Sean was our modern day Jesus Christ?
Guess he died for his killers sins - they walked out of the courtroom liked they had been given a gift from the heavens. I wonder what the rest of their lives are going to be like.

I close with one suggestion for them - consider closely your actions after the toasting of your freedom has ended.

Apr. 26 2008 12:27 AM
Kyla from Harlem

There cannot be any reasonable doubt that a person who ever fires 31 bullets, no matter the emergency, has done SOMETHING wrong. No doubt whatsoever.

I hope that the jury and Ray Kelly can begin a process of truly looking at the individual cop, and the effect that his/her behavior can have on the individual citizen. There is responsibility in the hands of the NYPD and the individual cops in question, to varying degrees.

In all of these situations, there is always an outlier. A Volpe, if you will. The guy who empties three clips instead of attempting to solve an awful situation in any sort of rational way. And this guy shouldn't be a scapegoat, but a kind of indicator of how the NYPD does with it's weakest cops (and perhaps how it works to weed out it's most predatory officers or those attracted to police work because of the danger and opportunity for violence and abuse).

These events will continue to happen until we confront our history of slavery and other human rights abuses. Our penal system is as embedded in the horrors of the past as anything else - perhaps more so. If we don't train a police force to reflect the changing realities - both de jure and de facto, Civil Rights Act AND changing immigration patterns- then we will have a paramilitary that functions to uphold the errors of the past, rather than patrol and encourage the populace to move toward a common understanding of decency.

Apr. 25 2008 02:26 AM
Joseph Bell from Long Island

Gun Talk-- "go get my gat"

If one goes to any major intesection in the city, say Grand Army Plaza in BKLYN (Flatbush+E. Pkwy), one will see road rage accompanied by elaborate rituals involving getting out of the car and raising trunk lids and hatchbacks.
If you visit the ball courts where the older guys play, you might hear talk of someone being "sprayed". Just two examples, there are many more. An uncover cop should be streetwise enough to recognize "woofing" routines.

Apr. 24 2008 12:36 PM
Joseph Bell from Long Island

Agree with mgdu above, The right questions were not asked. Intoxication is an issue. Also poor/no supervision by Lt. on scene. Was he asleep? Or otherwise engaged? Isnora panicked re: gun talk. Indiv with gun (Coicou) allowed to drive away. Bell's party not intercepted before entering their vehicle. Nite time car stop most stressful situation for cops. Awful police work here!

As for criminal charges, not proven.

Apr. 24 2008 12:25 PM
Brian from Forest Hills, NY

THIS WAS A BAD AND HARMFUL SEGMENT!!! There is a difference between wrongful acts and criminal acts. The pending charges were never thoroughly defined. The law that pertains to the charges were never defined and discussed. The evidence was, at best, summarized.

When you asked the Times reporter if the judge was considering certain things, how in the world would he know that? Did he discuss with the judge what the judge was considering? There is only one (maybe two if he is discussing it with his Law Secretary) who know what he is considering.

Brian, you would never do a segment on any other important subject with such little information (e.g., the "go-bag", health care). You fell way short on this one. This is way below what I have come to believe are the Brian Lehrer standards. OY!

Apr. 24 2008 12:15 PM
seth from Astoria

So our NYC taxes will go towards a payout in a civil case against the city by the friends of Sean Bell? After they had a "disagreement" in a seedy nightclub, where lots of things go down (and why would you be there if you weren't planning on taking part) and coincidentally making comments about going to get your "gat"? Not a bad deal and I'm sure it will help the mourning process. "Sean who? Oh yeah, I miss him, Hey are you going to hit Club Kalua tonight?"

Apr. 24 2008 12:04 PM
Micheal from Manhattan

We don't ASK cops to take a dangerous job. The job is there and they apply for it, I thought about entering the police force at one time. But NEVER in my life did ANYONE ever ASK me to be a cop. that last caller is lost in a 'mussolini " complex

Apr. 24 2008 12:00 PM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

I like that last caller. Maybe we should remove any standards or oversight whatsoever. I've always wanted to live in the Wild West...

Apr. 24 2008 12:00 PM
mgdu from hell's kitchen

Drunken cops don't think or act properly. That has to be the main cause of why they did it.

isn't it obvious that if they weren't drunk, and/or hopped up on other illegal substances, certainly they would have voluntarily come forward for immediate testing at the crime scene--just as any non-police perpetrator would have had to do?

Apr. 24 2008 11:58 AM
hjs from 11211

i always think in these cases that the cities oversight over police policies should be the questioned.

Apr. 24 2008 11:56 AM
alex from queens nyc

brain one min.1 a guys in the club drinking next to u. Few min. later he's running at your car with a gun. This i why undercovers dont engage suspects

Apr. 24 2008 11:53 AM
mgdu from hell's kitchen

Cowardice, stupidity, and ill-training, which are the only excuses that these officers have been able to scrape up, are not excuses for shooting and killing unarmed people.

Based on the evidence reported in the media, these three officers deserve to be found guilty of the highest charges and imprisoned for the fullest terms allowed.

Even more importantly, the NYPD brass who hired such unsuitable people should be fired and brought up on charges of criminal negligence.

Apr. 24 2008 11:51 AM
CP from Brooklyn

Throughout this case, we've heard that cops are trained to fire three times, stop and assess. COPS ARE NOT TRAINED TO STOP AND ASSESS! Ask any cop if they received that training in the Police Academy and they will tell you that they were never taught that. The PC said this and the media picked it up as gospel. Cops are trained to stop the oncoming threat, not to stop and assess.

Apr. 24 2008 11:51 AM
Micheal from Manhattan

Cops cant have it both ways... you cant say that they are robots that fire and reload without thought because of "training" and then say that they are scared (despite all their training) like choir boys. If they are scared and they don't want to put themselves in the line of danger, get another job... no one is drafted to be a cop. Its a Job you work for and have responsibilities that are deadly if abused.

Apr. 24 2008 11:51 AM
World's Toughest Milkman from the_C_train

I agree with the caller Noah's assertion, but also if the cops are operating within their protocol then it is a systemic problem.

The next caller is a bit off his rocker thinking that cops are not operating under fear like a cold blooded killer or "Dirty Harry".

Apr. 24 2008 11:48 AM
Pat from Manhattan

If this were a civilian case, the alleged murderers would not be able to use their perceived fear as a defense. Fear from what? No gun?

Apr. 24 2008 11:46 AM
Robert from NYC

Like with the teachers, if you raise the salaries of cops you'll get better cops. I am not a very pro cop person but for the danger that they face daily the salaries are in no way any compensation. Their salaries should be doubled at least.

Apr. 24 2008 11:44 AM
Bess from Manhattaan

I would argue that this case is almost as big-- almost as serious and significant as OJ and Rodney King. If the cops walk free after the judge delivers his verdict tomorrow, I predict riots...this is a bigger issue than I think most people realize.

Apr. 24 2008 11:44 AM
DP from Crooklyn

This is a farce as you are asking people to pass judgment on a situation where they have only heard a small part of the evidence. Does it sound like excessive force was used? Sure it does. Does that mean that we are adequately prepared to pass judgment based upon the second-hand evidence provided over WNYC or other media outlet? I think not. Brian, you wouldn't want to be judged in this way.

Apr. 24 2008 11:44 AM
Iver from NYC

I'm with antonio on this. Until police truly get over the idea that non-white=criminal, we'll continue with these kinds of incidents. It doesn't matter if individual cops are minorities. The dominant thinking holds that non-white individuals are guilty until proven innocent or, in this case, shot to death.

Apr. 24 2008 11:34 AM
Larry Conroy from Manhattan

Having been a gunnery instructor way back in my days with the British Army, I learned first hand that when even trained personnel are in a panic situation, and they have guns in their hands, and those personnel fear for their lives; those guns will be fired. We see that every day now with constant news items covering "friendly fire" in Iraq, Afghanistan, and here at home. In a split second, disaster can occur, and it can't be changed. So -- perhaps the verdict should not be against the police officers who most certainly were caught in the situation I describe. But also this should be another indictment against there being too many guns available to anyone who wishes to carry one. Perhaps we will eventually get over the sacrosanct attitude we have towards "The right to bear arms" and look at it, as it is -- to me at least -- a very clear intent on the part of the founding fathers to create a local militia in defense of a new territory. I also believe that original intent was correct. It has been so sadly "spun" in the intervening years.

Apr. 24 2008 11:32 AM
Brian from Forest Hills, NY

HORRIBLE QUESTION. Unless you sat through the trial to observe all the witnesses and the evidence and knew the law that pertains to the class, you cannot make a judgement on this, or any other, case.

That is why the trier of the facts (i.e., the jury or in this case because it was a bench trial, the judge) is required to sit through the entire case and to hear and apply the law that pertains to the trial and charges, as opposed to just getting a summary as to what happened by a reporter and then rendering judgement.

Apr. 24 2008 11:16 AM
antonio from park slope

Basically I would rule some kind of jail time (which I know will be unlikely),
But what really needs to happen is some kind of reform to the police department.
Have a complete overhaul of how they train police officers; more interaction with communities of color.
I mean is in it obvious that these tragedies happen in communities of color?
Could you imagine if this kind of thing happened on bedord ave, smith street, or leafy austin street in the forest hills?

Apr. 24 2008 11:12 AM
seth from Astoria

true, Justice has rules as well. And if the prosecutors could not present a case beyond a reasonable doubt that these cops were in the wrong, then there has to be an acquittal.

Apr. 24 2008 11:11 AM
seth from Astoria

First off ANON, the Cops weren't all white, one was black i believe, so it's not a Black/White thing.

I think the only questionable one is Michael Oliver though as he fired 31 shots. Yes they say it happened so fast, but I think after 15 or 16 I might be a little bored, and to double that is a bit much. When I knock on a door I knock in sets of 9 and that takes 2 seconds or so. I think that is a good relation to put these shots and the amount of time into understanding.

Apr. 24 2008 11:09 AM
Jim from NY, NY

Justice requires a complete and total acquittal.

The shooting was justified.

Apr. 24 2008 11:03 AM
Chicago Listener

My gut tells me the cops screwed up, that it was a bad operation. What was the original purpose of the operations? Drugs? Prostitution? I'll draw a really broad analogy here and compare this to the Iraq war. Bad intel, flawed premise and the cops wind up chasing the wrong subject.

Apr. 24 2008 10:49 AM
Anon from NYC

How come that whenever there's a case of police brutality, it always involves a black man?

Was there ever a civil rights movement? The divide between black and white is definitely still there - larger than ever.

I'm not black or white, but after observing the situation in my twenty years in this country my feelings are definitely on the side of African Americans.

Apr. 24 2008 10:41 AM
MCH from Brooklyn

I'm not sure what all the charges are exactly but my guess is that the verdict will satisfy no one. It will probably not be an outright guilty of the most serious charges, but they probably will get convicted on lesser charges.

Apr. 24 2008 10:36 AM
a woman from manhattan

My brother applied to the police force once, and said he backed out when he realized, after meeting all the other men who wanted to be cops, that they were all just a bunch of "legitimized thugs."

I was so proud of him for becoming an electrician instead.

Apr. 24 2008 10:16 AM
a woman from manhattan

That guy who fired the first shot, and the guy who fired the most shots, and the other guy who didn't even shoot anywhere near Sean Bell, they should all go to jail, and be decommissioned. We do not need people with such bad judgement doing ANYTHING in the police force.

Apr. 24 2008 10:15 AM

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