Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“There is no maxim, in my opinion, which is more liable to be misapplied, and which, therefore, more needs elucidation, than the current one, that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.”     James Madison

November 25, 2006

Another Police Shooting

by Kevin

This time in New York City. Apparently this dangerous menace to society’s crime was swiping an unmarked police car.

Officers shot three men who had just left a bachelor party held at a Queens strip club early Saturday morning, leaving the groom dead on the day of his wedding, said police, witnesses and relatives.

The shooting happened just after 4 a.m. around 143-39 95th Ave. in the Jamaica section of Queens, near Club Kalua, said Officer Kathleen Price, a police department spokeswoman.

It was not immediately clear what provoked the shooting, but the incident drew outcry from community leaders and family who demanded answers about how it happened. Paul Browne, chief spokesman for the New York Police Department, declined comment Saturday morning.

The man who died was taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, said Sgt. Mike Wysokowski, another spokesman. The other two were taken to Mary Immaculate Hospital nearby, with one in critical condition and the other stable. The three men ranged in age from 23 to 31 years old.

Relatives said the dead groom was Sean Bell, 23, a father of two.

Robert Porter, who identified himself as Bell’s first cousin, said he was supposed to be a DJ at the wedding. He said about 250 people were invited to the ceremony and were flying in from all over the country.

“I can’t really express myself. It’s a numb feeling,” Porter said. “I still don’t want to believe it, a beautiful day like this, and he was going to have a beautiful wedding, he was going to live forever with his wife and children. And this happened.”

There were no reports that any officers were wounded in the incident. As many as eight officers may have been involved, but it was not immediately clear what roles each played, Wysokowski said.

Denise Ford, who said her son was one of the surviving shooting victims, said the men’s car hit an unmarked police vehicle. Two cars inside a large area covered by police officers Saturday morning appeared damaged. But police on Saturday did not immediately confirm that one of them was an unmarked department car.

“All I know, they was celebrating,” Ford told reporters at the scene Saturday morning. “The guy was getting married today.”

When I was in driver’s ed, I was taught that whenever I hit a car accidentally I exchange insurance information with the other driver. Apparently, New York’s bravest are taught when one of their cars are hit, to shoot the driver and the passengers of the car that hit it. Of course the cops aren’t talking to the press about this incident. It’s hard to see at the first media reports how to see this shooting is justified.

If this is a case of cops simply snapping when one of their cars were hit, then the NYPD seriously need to check their hiring procedures to keep those who can’t handle stress out of the force. If this is going to be a typical internal affairs investigation where the police are going to stall and try and coverup the actions of these eight cops, then the citizens of New York and Americans in general need to be outraged.

UPDATE: It appears the more we know about the circumstances of the shooting, the less it appears justified.

Mr. Bell’s car then backed up onto a sidewalk, hit a storefront’s rolled-down protective gate and nearly struck an undercover officer before shooting forward and slamming into the police van again, the police said.

In response, five police officers fired at least 50 rounds at the men’s car, a silver Nissan Altima; the bullets ripped into other cars and slammed through an apartment window near the shooting scene on Liverpool Street near 94th Avenue.

Apparently, the three guys had a bit too much to drink at their bachelor party and hit the unmarked police van and swerved all over and hit the police van again. Now if someone hit my car and I got out and emptied the gun I had on me, I would be arrested and charged with manslaughter and it would have been classified as an act of road rage. But something tells me that these five cops won’t be arrested and charged with manslaughter or even fired from the NYPD.

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  1. I’m going to withhold judgement on this one until I hear more of the details… There just might be something fishy going on here, but there isn’t really any information given about what happened.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — November 25, 2006 @ 10:07 am
  2. From London all I can say is this…Only in America…Sad

    Comment by gary lowe — November 26, 2006 @ 6:43 am
  3. “Only in America”???? Are you insane? The US is one of the few countries in this world where this doesn’t happen everyday and you have the police to thank for it!!! And it’s amazing that “Kevin” is able to deduce that the driver was merely had “a little too much to drink” and only sideswiped a police article from the scarce information that is provided by the press, which is biased in the 1st place. You’re criticizing the police for jumping to conclusions but you’re making leaps and bounds and your conclusions and outrageous. If someone was driving a car straight at you trying to injure/kill you, you would pray there was a police officer present to put a bullet in the driver so he would stop. YOu all take your freedom and safety for granted. Get off your computers and go actually try to make the world a better place like the police instead of criticizing issues and situations you couldn’t possibly understand.

    YOu are idiots

    Comment by U R idiots — November 26, 2006 @ 6:57 am
  4. The fact that this man was about to get married in 2 hours has NOTHING to do with the shooting. The fact that this man had 2 children has NOTHING to do with the shooting.
    Why would you be in a shady strip club at 4:00AM on your wedding day instead of being with your family? Why would you smash in to an undercover police car not once but twice, almost running over an undercover cop in the process? The police were in the right.

    Comment by Only In America — November 26, 2006 @ 8:24 am
  5. In response, five police officers fired at least 50 rounds at the men’s car, a silver Nissan Altima; the bullets ripped into other cars and slammed through an apartment window near the shooting scene on Liverpool Street near 94th Avenue.

    Police should have better aim, even at 4 in the morning…and 50 rounds? Even one round was in excess. I can see shooting out the tires of the car, but shooting INTO the car?

    Comment by TripleLLL — November 26, 2006 @ 8:29 am
  6. Apparently going to a strip club (shady? Nice judgment there, the morality police out in force I see) and hitting a police car is now a capital crime.

    Comment by Eric — November 26, 2006 @ 8:42 am
  7. If I were leaving a party and was being followed by some guy (plainclothes officer admited following on foot) and sudenly was surounded by two cars (LATER determined to be the police toyota and police windstar)I would have tried anything to get out of there, including ramming cars and driving on the sidewalk.

    Comment by Ben — November 26, 2006 @ 6:55 pm
  8. live in Austin, TX. I just want you to know that the recent killing of Sean Bell has prompted contempt for the NYPD across the entire country. Do you wonder why people have no respect for police officers? I know the shooting is still under investigation, but how can you question the motives of an officer that fires his weapon 31 times (reloading a new clip half way through)! That officer obviously intended to kill Sean Bell and perhaps all the men in the car. I cannot express in words how disgusting an abuse of power this incident was. I can’t imagine the pain felt by the victim’s family and friends. The officers involved should be punished to the full extent of the law. I’m friggin scared that anyone could say that the police were in the right. The cops fired 50 shots close range at unarmed men! Several bullets hit nearby apartments and businesses! How can that be “in the right”

    Comment by William — November 26, 2006 @ 7:40 pm
  9. Isn’t it funny how in a majority of these types of shootings the police always say “I THOUGHT there was a gun”, then we find out afterwards that the victim(s) were unarmed. And why does it take so many bullets to stop a person who is not shooting back? And let’s be real here people, If a group of PLAIN CLOTHED men whom did not identify themselves as police officers began firing rounds into my car, I would be trying to hall ass out of there. Did anybody ever stop to think that this guy was probably terrified from being surrounded by unknown (UNMARKED) vehicles and was attempting to get away. What a horrible way to die. Put yourself in that car. How would you have reacted? My heart is crying for the victims and their families especially the bride and the two small childern left without a father. This situation could have been handled in so many different ways that didn’t have to result in death. UNBELIEVABLE. Sadly we already know the outcome of this horrible act of violence by the NYPD. Once again they will get off scott free and continue on with their happy lives. The lives of the victims and their families however have been changed forever. They will never be the same again. It could have been any of you. It could have been me.

    Comment by Monique — November 26, 2006 @ 8:37 pm
  10. It sounds to me like the police did go completely ballistic in this case. Bt as for Only In America commenting that the fact that it was Sean Bell’s wedding day and that he had 2 children has nothing to do with the shooting is the most ridiculous comment ever. How can you say that? The average man has a bachelor party at a strip club or they have a stripper come to their house party. Either way, that explains why he was there. A last hoorah can keep you out at 4 AM. Irregardless,the idea of 5 officers firing over 50 rounds into a car full of unarmed men is simply appalling…And what’s even more appalling is that the Al Sharptons and Rev. Jesse Jacksons of the world don’t stand up and make their voices heard every time there’s black-on-black crime, everytime one young brother kills another. It’s so easy to “speak” when it’s a cop issue. There’s more of us killing each other than the cops – and that is a sad, sad reality that needs to end. All of this rallying behind justice this young man’s family is wonderful, don’t get me wrong. But there needs be a daily outcry for the senseless killing that’s wiping young men, in particular, young black men, off the face of this earth, this very planet. Where are the LEADERS on this issue? I guess it doesn’t go with their agenda to become a bigger political star – and it’s so easy avoid that so much more psychologically deeper.

    I am glad that people are speaking out on this, but let’s speak out on everything that’s taking our young men away, and I mean, all of them, our young American men of every color, because let’s face it, every race of the American male has an issue that’s simply killing him, and if we’re not careful, there’s going to be a generation of women with no men in her age group to marry. I feel that way myself!…The Baby Boomers are going strong, but the generations behind them are dropping like flies, or haven’t we noticed that?

    So speak, please, I know I am. Please don’t drop this ball. We can’t have BOYS IN BLUE not value lives like that, not when they’re supposed to be protectors. Let’s not let this be an issue of the week. Everytime we see injustice, we have to voice it. We have to or else what good is America?!

    Comment by Meredith — November 26, 2006 @ 8:49 pm
  11. It’s refreshing to see a group of people not rush to judgement and realize that the facts of this matter are yet to be known. I’m glad that you all are not getting caught up in the emotional aspects of this shooting and demanding for the cop’s heads before the facts come out.

    I’m also pleased to see so many experts here in this comment section…experts on use of force policies, experts on officer survival tactics, experts on undercover operations, experts on marksmanship and combat shooting, experts on internal investigation procedures…it’s so rare to see so many people so knowledgable about so many aspects of this case.

    Anybody here ever been in a shooting? Ever had somebody try to run over you in a car? Been in what you thought was a life or death situation?Anybody know anything about auditory exclusion? Tunnel vision? Anybody have an understanding about how the human body reacts to stress? Anybody familiar with combat shooting under stress?

    Can any of you self-appointed experts tell me, drawing on your vast personal knowledge, why those cops did what they did?

    No, I didn’t think so.

    Neither can I, by the way. But, unlike you, I’m not ready to reach for a lynching rope just yet.

    No need for an investigation, you folks clearly have already figured out exactly what happened, and you only needed one side of the story to get to the truth. Bravo!

    Comment by Jack — November 27, 2006 @ 12:21 am
  12. Black-on-Black crime is a different issue though and we don’t if the cops are black or white. It’s alarming when you have someone in POWER doing injustice…it begs the question of how far will this go? What are the justifications and so on…Someone in POWER is not supposed to be biased toward one given group

    This is outrageous nevertheless…50 rounds…I’m sure the undercover cops had bulletproof vests on so they could have waited after a couple rounds to see if the people in the car fired back…but no…it’s clear there was an intention to commit the killing…

    I’m sure I would try to get away too…cornered by two cars and no KNOWLEDGE THAT THEY WERE COPS…at 4AM…come on now…

    Comment by jp — November 27, 2006 @ 6:04 am
  13. Jack wrote: Anybody here ever been in a shooting? Ever had somebody try to run over you in a car? Been in what you thought was a life or death situation?Anybody know anything about auditory exclusion? Tunnel vision? Anybody have an understanding about how the human body reacts to stress? Anybody familiar with combat shooting under stress?

    I can genuinely answer yes to all of the above. I have dealt with such situations many times in my life. However, that is not the point. The point is that cops are entrusted with great authority and power. And if they shot and killed someone in a questionable situation it is the cops that are at fault, not the citizen.

    Comment by Eric — November 27, 2006 @ 6:58 am
  14. I would like to ask “u r idiots” what he would do if 2 car loads of men came pulling in behind him and in front of him to block his retreat, failed to identify themselves and pulled guns on him and opened fire on him. I know what I would do, I would try to get the heck out of there. Who’s the idiot?
    Another thing, whether these cops or the victims were white, yellow, brown or black makes no difference. What’s important is that they were cops and unarmed citizen’s. I think that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton or whomever, black or white should be cry this kind of shooting any where regardless of race.

    Comment by Darrell — November 27, 2006 @ 11:39 am
  15. “This is outrageous nevertheless…50 rounds…I’m sure the undercover cops had bulletproof vests on so they could have waited after a couple rounds to see if the people in the car fired back…but no…it’s clear there was an intention to commit the killing…”

    JP, how do you know the cops were wearing body armor? I never wore it when I worked UC, it was too easy to spot. And the whole “waited to see if they shot back” thing is a truly ignorant thing to say. That remark right there tells me you simply don’t understand the realities of deadly force encounters enough to comment intelligently on this matter. You make yourself look stupid saying such things. And as far as “intention to commit the killing”..not only are you a tactical expert, but now you can read minds? Please.

    “The point is that cops are entrusted with great authority and power. And if they shot and killed someone in a questionable situation it is the cops that are at fault, not the citizen.”

    Really, Eric? How do you figure that? I’m with you on this being a questionable situation…but how do you come to the conclusion that the cops are at fault here? Fact is, we don’t know enough yet to say who is “at fault” here…well, I don’t, at least. You seem to have your mind made up though. And again, you only needed one side of the story to determine the truth. Impressive. I guess, in all your “many” deadly force encounters in your life, none of them were ever “questionable” and nobody ever decided you were wrong without hearing all the facts.

    I’m disgusted by this rush to judgement. We don’t know what happened, people. Those cops, some, most, or all of them, might have been in the wrong…or not. We don’t know enough to say. We don’t know if they were trying to arrest or deteain the guys in that car. We don’t know if they said or acted as if they were armed. We don’t know if the cops identified themselves. We don’t know if the guys intentionally tried to run the cop on foot down, prompting him to fear for his life and fire on the car. We just don’t know.

    Why don’t some of you climb down off your high horses and wait and see what the facts are before baying for blood and squawking about police brutality.

    Comment by Jack — November 27, 2006 @ 2:31 pm
  16. Jack: You seem to have your mind made up though.

    Yes, actually, I have. If you aren\’t protecting yourself, or protecting another person, the use of deadly force is murder. Given that the man in question had no weapons, and there is no indication he was threatening anyone\’s life, my mind is made up. Further, a cop has an obligation, as far as this citizen is concerned, to bend over backwards in not harming fellow citizens. Much further, in fact, than the ordinary citizen has. And I can pretty well say that, based on what I see in society around me, most citizens agree with that idea. You, apparently, do not.

    As a former soldier, combat veteran, law enforcement official, government security manager, physical security manager and chief security officer of a multi-billion dollar organization I think I have a basis to speak with some authority here. Do you happen to have 25+ years experience in the military, law enforcement, physical security and security management? Have you fired your weapon in a tactical situation and taken someone\’s life? Have you been in a deadly force situation and chosen to put your life in danger rather than use your weapon in order to avoid killing someone even though you were scared shitless? Since you\’re asking hard questions, I guess I\’ll ask a few of you. You see, all those questions you asked me, I can answer yes to. And the questions I just asked you are ones I can answer yes to. How about you?

    You appear to believe that cops should get more leniency than ordinary citizens. I take the opposite position. The more authority and power you have, the less leniency you get. The less opportunity to explain that it was \”all an accident\” you get. The more you are expected to do things right the first time. And, if you don\’t like it, then why the hell are you a cop?

    Comment by Eric — November 27, 2006 @ 3:04 pm
  17. Mayor Bloomberg fired a city worker for playing solitaire on the spot. However, these cops have not been fired and now are given paid vacation for murdering an innocent man.

    The NYPD has been shooting innocent black folks for years. It happens every year. Every year the Mayor is at the podium proclaiming it was an accident. How can 50 bullets be an accident?

    The officers should be fired immediately and put under arrest for murder. Then they should be placed on trial.

    If a black civilian had fired 50 bullets at a vehicle that brushed up against him, would he still be on the street or in jail?


    Comment by Mike — November 27, 2006 @ 7:56 pm

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