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Queens Chronicle

Shooting site may be ‘Sean Bell Street’

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Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2009 12:00 am

The parents of Sean Bell — the Queens man shot dead by police on his wedding day in 2006 — are trying to have a section of the street in which their son was gunned down named in his honor.

A vote to approve the measure was scheduled to have taken place Wednesday night by Community Board 12. If the motion passed, the City Council would be able decide in June whether part of Liverpool Street in Jamaica will memorialize the shooting victim.

Bell had left his bachelor party Nov. 25, 2006, when a barrage of more than 50 police bullets fatally struck him and wounded two friends. The community was outraged by police conduct during the incident, and three of the five officers involved were tried and acquitted of all charges.

The Rev. Al Sharpton and other followers were arrested after blocking traffic in protest of the court’s ruling. After the not-guilty verdicts were read, Sharpton called the days events an “abortion of justice.”

Missing paperwork took the prospective street name change off of C.B.12’s agenda in March. Bell’s family had to complete a list of forms to make the memorial possible, all of which are now complete, according to Chairwoman Adjoa Gzifa.

The Bell family has established a website, justiceforsean.net, dedicated to having a street named in Sean’s honor.

Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) supports the move.

“I hope that they do vote for it,” Comrie said. “While I would not say we’re commemorating a memorable event, it is certainly a notable event, for this city and worldwide.

“The family wishes it to be done, and I hope they do so.”

In handing down the ruling in 2006, Judge Arthur Cooperman said the officers’ actions, while unfortunate, were not criminal, recalling how Bell and his confidants participated in a heated exchange with a group at a strip club that night. Two of the men allegedly made threats involving a gun, which prompted undercover officers to follow Bell and his friends to their Nissan Altima on Liverpool Street.

When Detective Gescard Isnora approached the vehicle, Cooperman said, the Altima — driven by Bell — tried to speed away, striking Isnora and then a police van coming around the corner of Liverpool St. and 95th Ave. Bell then reversed, hitting a gate before driving forward and hitting the police vehicle again.

Isnora would testify he saw one of the men in the van reach for a weapon, yelling “gun” and discharging his police firearm. The other officers then followed suit.

An investigation of the scene showed that no one with Bell was armed.

“The police response with respect to each defendant was not proved to be criminal,” Cooperman ruled, according to the Associated Press. “Questions of carelessness and incompetence must be left to other forums.”

Sean Bell forum on minorities and the police is April 25

The inaugural Sean Bell Forum on Minority Men and the Police will be held April 25, marking the anniversary of when three police officers were acquitted in the death of the 23-year-old Queens man.

Beginning at noon at York College, the Rev. Al Sharpton, along with Bell’s fiancé, Nicole, will join Rep. Gregory Meeks at this “Know Your Rights” conference. Other law enforcement professionals and civilian leaders will also be in attendance.

The purpose of the forum will be to help young people understand what they can do to prevent an escalation of a confrontation with police, as well as how officers are bound by the NYPD's creed of Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect.

York College is located at 94-20 Guy R. Brewer Blvd. in Jamaica.

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