ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

April 25, 2008

2008.04.25: Protest 5:30 Today: Cops Acquitted of Sean Bell’s Murder

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Drug Wars,Police Abuse,Racism — nyclaw01 @ 9:31 am

From:  Letwin, Michael
Sent: Friday, April 25, 2008 9:31 AM
To: ALAA MEMBERS; 1199 Members
Subject: Protest 5:30 Today: Cops Acquitted of Sean Bell’s Murder

Protest the Verdict:  The NYPD Murder of Sean Bell

Today, 5:30 p.m.

Queens DA’s Office, 125-01 Queens Blvd. (between Hoover Ave & 82nd Ave.)

E or F train to Union Turnpike

3 Detectives in Bell Shooting Acquitted
Three detectives were found not guilty Friday morning on all charges in the November, 2006, shooting death of Sean Bell, who died in a hail of 50 police bullets outside a club in Jamaica, Queens.

In the Sean Bell case, it was the gang that couldn’t prosecute straight
No matter what Justice Arthur Cooperman’s verdict in the Sean Bell trial is Friday, court watchers will remember the prosecution of this case as one of the strangest ever. . . . “Even if Cooperman finds the cops guilty, I just wish the Queens DA would prosecute all its cases like this one,” Murphy said. “In front of a jury, it would be a defense lawyer’s dream.”`

Sharpton, Bell supporters await verdict in shooting case
Guzman, using a cane and leaning on Sharpton’s shoulder for support, added, “It’s going to go one of two ways — either we’ll get justice for Sean Bell or they’ll condone the execution of Sean Bell.”

Rev. Al: Freeing Bell cops would be verdict worthy of Old South
“If we say Friday that people’s attitude gets them shot by police, are we going to say next that it’s all right for people to assault women because they look like that’s what they wanted?” Sharpton asked.

Martin made the remark during his closing argument in the case against three NYPD detectives. Guzman was the person who “had the attitude to go get a gun and come back and use it,” Martin said.

Guzman has denied threatening anyone with a gun, and Sharpton was outraged by the argument. “This smacks of Emmett Till – of reckless eyeballing,” the civil rights activist said.

Till, 14, was murdered in Mississippi for whistling at a white woman in 1955. His killers were acquitted.

Det. Oliver has never shown any remorse, Sean Bell’s parents rage
“He’d come in with arrogance, like he just didn’t care. Like, ‘So what, I killed somebody, it don’t mean nothing.’ Like it’s a joke,” William Bell told the Daily News.

“He showed no remorse. None whatsoever”. . . .

All versions end with Bell and his friends walking away from the faceoff without a single blow being struck.

Bell’s father believes the cops delivered well-rehearsed accounts of the shooting and have not detailed the real events.

“They’re not going to tell you the truth, no matter what,” William Bell said. “It’s just so many fabrications, trying to build up a case. For me, it didn’t work.”


Some notable shootings involving New York police officers

Some fatal shootings of black men over the past decade involving New York City police officers:


Inside the Sean Bell Shooting Trial


The Justice for Sean Bell statement, signed by the 57 LAS staff members listed below. The statement reflects positions (including prosecution of police perpetrators) previously adopted by ALAA. See, e.g., Statement on Police Violence & Abuse (March 22, 2000), attached [below].

Justice for Sean Bell

March 26, 2007

The undersigned New York City Legal Aid attorneys and support staff believe that the indictment of three police officers, for the fatal shooting of Sean Bell in a hail of 50 bullets, is too little and too late.

Sean Bell joins a long list of young men of color infamously murdered or assaulted by the NYPD, including Amadou Diallo, Patrick Dorismond, Anthony Baez and Abner Louima. Yet police officers are almost never indicted—let alone convicted—for their crimes.

Police shootings, and the systemic failure to effectively prosecute their perpetrators, shows that the problem is not a “few bad apples” in the NYPD.  Rather, they are the predictable result of a criminal justice system that—as a matter of deliberate policy—systematically targets communities of color for search‑and‑destroy arrest sweeps, widespread criminalization and inhumane drug sentences.

Under the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations, there has been an explosion in the number of racially‑discriminatory stop‑and‑frisks.  The vast majority of these do not result in an arrest, and most that do are for such charges as riding a bicycle on the sidewalk, open alcohol containers, walking between subway cars, and marijuana possession.

These illegal stops generate criminal records for hundreds of thousands of people of color, and are often accompanied by false accusations, physical threats, beatings, torture, or worse.

Such injustices cannot be ended by tinkering with existing policies.  Genuine solutions must include:

1.  Firing Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

2.  Vigorous prosecution, by a special prosecutor, of police officers—especially commanders—who commit or condone the crimes described above.

3.  An end to militarized police operations against young people of color.

* * *

Signers (Affiliations listed for identification only):

Charles Billups

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Chairperson, The Grand Council of Guardians

Antonia Codling

Criminal Defense Division‑Bronx

Affirmative Action Representative

ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Lucy Herschel

Criminal Appeals Bureau

Delegate, 1199/SEIU

Julie Fry

Alternate Vice President, Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Michael Letwin

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Former President

ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Susan Olivia Morris

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Former Sgt.‑at‑Arms

ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Magda Rosa‑Rios

Alternate Vice-President, Harlem Community Law Office

ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Azalia Torres

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Former Sr. Attorney & Attorneys of Color (ACLA) Representative

ALAA/UAW Local 2325

Bahar Ansari

Juvenile Rights Division‑Bronx

Rigodis Appling

Criminal Defense Division‑Manhattan

Noha Arafa

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Chennette X. Barreto

Shared Services

Marisa Benton

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Abby Biberman

Civil Division

Norah Bowler

Juvenile Rights Division-Queens

Kamber L. Brisbane

Harlem Community Law Office

Jennifer Burkavage

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Cynthia Colt

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Laurie Dick

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Femi B. Disu

Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Monica D. Dula

Criminal Defense Division-Bronx

Kimberly Forte

Juvenile Rights Division-Manhattan

Keisha A. Godfrey

Criminal Defense Division‑Queens

Bridgette Holloman

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Allison Jordan

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Emily Kane

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Benjamin Kanstroom

Criminal Defense Division‑Manhattan

Rebecca Kurti

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Patrick Langhenry

Civil Division‑Brooklyn

Adrian Lesher

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Melissa Loehr

Criminal Defense Division-Bronx

Beth Lyons

Criminal Appeals Bureau

Dianna Lysius


Christopher Madiou

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Titus Mathai

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Joyce Murphy

Criminal Defense Division‑Manhattan

Elizabeth Newton

Criminal Defense Division‑Queens

David Ocasio

Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Ivan Pantoja

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Karena Rahall

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Hara Robrish

Criminal Defense Division-Manhattan

Jacob Rolls

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Mimi Rosenberg

Civil Division‑Brooklyn

Gerard Savage

Criminal Defense Division-Queens

Samantha Seda

Criminal Defense Division-Queens

Kawan L. Simmons

Criminal Defense Division‑Bronx

Shana Skaletsky

Criminal Defense Division‑Bronx

Brian Slater

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Steven Terry

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Rebecca Turner

Criminal Defense Division-Brooklyn

Dawn Yuster

Criminal Defense Division‑Brooklyn

Sunita Patel

Civil Division, Immigration Unit


Statement on Police Violence & Abuse

Adopted by the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys Delegate Council, March 22, 2000

In response to “Operation Condor,” ALAA reaffirms its commitment to provide each client with high-quality legal representation, including, but not limited to:

*Thorough pre-arraignment client interviews, under conditions that are healthy and confidential;

*Adherence to established arraignment shift hours;

*Production of incarcerated clients for each court appearance;

*Aggressive investigation and motion practice;

*Inclusion of supervising attorneys in arraignment staffing; and

*Appropriate legal action against, and publicity about, the pattern of false arrests and detention.

In response to the systemic police abuse that plagues New York City, of which “Condor” is a prominent example, ALAA reaffirms its support for far-reaching reform, including the immediate:

*Abolition of the Street Crime Unit, “Operation Condor,” and all similar “search and destroy,” body count, and arrest quota units;

*Dismissal of Police Commissioner Howard Safir;

*Permanent federal monitoring of the NYPD, and implementation of such long overdue reforms as police residency requirements and abolition of the 48-hour rule;

*Federal prosecution of the police officers responsible for the murders of Amadou Diallo, Malcolm Ferguson, Patrick Dorismond, and others;

*Prosecution of each City official who illegally released sealed records of former Legal Aid Society client Patrick Dorismond;

*Establishment of an independent state agency to aggressively prosecute future police violence and abuse; and

*End to the “War on Drugs,” including the Draconian Rockefeller sentencing laws, which only serves to promote violent crime, police brutality, and mass criminalization, particularly against communities of color.

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