Friday, April 25, 2008

Sean Bell Verdict Sticks to Script

Sean Bell Verdict Sticks to Script

by Juan Gonzalez

New York Daily News

Friday, April 25th 2008, 10:19 AM

It is the nightmare that keeps recurring.

Whether its Amadou Diallo and the 41-shot barrage in the

Bronx, or Timothy Stansbury opening the roof door of his

public housing building only to be gunned down without

warning, or the 50 shots unleashed on Sean Bell.

It's all become predictable - after much public fanfare,

sometimes even a trial, our courts say no crime was

involved in these heart-breaking shootings of unarmed

black men.

Anyone who spent time in the Sean Bell trial knows the

prosecutors were only going through the motions. The

absymal New York Knicks had a better game plan this

season, and far more desire, than the prosecutors of

Detectives Michael Oliver, Gescard Isnora and Marc Cooper.

You couldn't help feeling they mailed it in, and Supreme

Court Judge Arthur Cooperman only stamped it.

It does not matter whether Bell , Joseph Guzman and Trent

Benefield were choir boys or thugs. The simple fact is

they had no guns.

There was an altercation outside a strip joint. Words

were exchanged. Bell and his two friends were clearly

filled with alcohol, but they walked away. Whether one

of them said he was going to get a gun or not was never

conclusively proved.

As they got into their car, they were confronted by a

man waiving a gun at them. Witnesses, even cops who took

the stand, contradicted each other as to whether Isnora

identified himself as cop.

An unmarked police van with no lights flashing drove up

the street into the path of Bell 's car. Ask yourself for

a moment: If you had just left an argument with some

stranger and you suddenly see a man rushing at you with

a gun, and then some van drives up and blocks your exit,

what would you do?

Would you wait around and ask some polite questions? Or

would you try to speed away from the scene as fast as

possible - even if it meant your car hitting the

stranger with gun?

I know what I would do - and I'm not trained to react

instantly in life and death situations.

Neither was Sean Bell, who was drunk, and who no doubt

wanted to be alive for his wedding.

The only ones on Liverpool Street that morning who had

professional training in such situations were Isnora,

Gescard, Cooper and the other members of their team.

Isnora claimed he thought Guzman was reaching for a gun,

only there was no gun. Diallo was reaching for his

wallet. Stansburry was merely opening the door.

The people who are trained made a mistake. The civilians

who are not trained ended up dead.

Throughout the black and Latino neighborhoods of this

city, the anguish has been mounting for years from these

periodic "mistakes."

That anguish is made far worse by a court system that

always seems to devise some legal wording or excuse to

declare there was no crime.

Now everyone is speculating about violence or rioting.

Just another way of blaming the victim.

The greatest threat of all is loss of faith in our

judicial system.

In some parts of this city, many are more convinced than

ever that there is one law for them and another for the


At least with the Knicks, we can hope the nightmare will

end next season.

© Copyright 2008


Portside aims to provide material of interest

to people on the left that will help them to

interpret the world and to change it.

Submit via email:

Submit via the Web:

Frequently asked questions:



Account assistance:

Search the archives:

No comments: