Monday, November 27, 2006


A crowd angrily called on police Sunday to explain why authorities fatally shot a 23-year-old man on the day of his wedding, and some called for the ouster of the city's police commissioner.

At a prayer vigil and rally, outraged family members, friends and citizens, led by civil rights advocate Reverand Al Sharpton chanted,"NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE"! Community leaders said they wanted to know why officers fired as many as 50 rounds at an unarmed group Saturday as they left Sean Bell's bachelor party in a car.

"We cannot allow this to continue to happen," said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been speaking for Bell's family since the shooting. "We've got to understand that all of us were in that car." At times some in the crowd yelled that Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly should be ousted. "Kelly must go!" people shouted.

The shootings occurred outside the Kalua Cabaret, a strip club where the bachelor party was held. The surviving victims were Joseph Guzman, 31, who was shot at least 11 times, and Trent Benefield, 23, who was hit three times. Both men are at Mary Immaculate Hospital, where Guzman was in critical condition and Benefield was stable.

Relatives of all three men — many of them stoic, and some crying — attended Sunday's vigil but none spoke publicly.

During a press conference Saturday, Commissioner Kelly said the department was still piecing together what happened, and that it was too early to say whether the shooting was justified.

The officers' shots struck the men's car 21 times after the vehicle rammed into an undercover officer and hit an unmarked NYPD minivan. The wild gunfire hit nearby homes and shattered windows at a train station, though no residents were injured.

Police thought one of the men in the car might have had a gun. But investigators found no weapons. It was unclear what prompted police to open fire, Kelly said.

Kelly said the incident stemmed from an undercover operation inside the strip club in the Jamaica section of Queens. Seven officers in plain clothes were investigating the Kalua Cabaret; five of them were involved in the shooting.

According to Kelly, the groom was involved in a verbal dispute outside the club after 4 a.m. and one of his friends made a reference to a gun.

An undercover officer walked closely behind Bell and his friends as they headed for their car. As he walked toward the front of the vehicle, they drove forward — striking him and a nearby undercover police vehicle, Kelly said.

The officer who had followed the group on foot was apparently the first to open fire, Kelly said. That officer had served on the force for five years. One 12-year veteran fired his weapon 31 times, emptying two full magazines, Kelly said.

At some point, Bell, who was driving, backed his car up onto the sidewalk, hitting a building gate, authorities said. He then drove forward, striking the police vehicle a second time, Kelly said.

Who knows what the hell really happened? An investigation is underway, and Reverand Al Sharpton and other community leaders want us to rest assured, there WON'T be any peace until there is justice!

I feel like I came out of retirement to shoot this rally. I haven't picked up a camera in quite some time, mostly due to a bout with a nasty stomach virus, work, and dealing with relationship drama. So I laid low for a the dark. This shooting took me completely by surprise. I couldn't believe this happened again. In 1999, police shot an unarmed African immigrant named Amadou Diallo, 41 times. Police said they thought he had a gun in his hand, but it was only his black wallet he pulled out to show police his ID. This incident and some early ones (remember the Crown Heights Riot?), changed the climate in New York between police and ordinary citizens, particularly black folk. And now this. When will the police get it?

I went through the nearly 200 photos I took at the rally and edited them down to the 38 posted below. They're a little out of sequence but I'm too damn tired to correct all that now. I think you'll get the complete picture anyway. Check out the photos below, remember Sean Bell, and join me and others in rallying for JUSTICE!


103rd Precint where accused cops were assigned to

Angry protesters and cops get in shouting match

Young protester atop a police car

Police brought barricades for crowd control, but protestors blocked the street preventing the truck from moving.

Shooting makes headline news in New York

Passersby watch protesters chant and march down Jamiaca Avenue

Bishop Lester Williams who was supposed to preside over the wedding of Sean Bell and Nicole Paultre took to the streets to protest

Passersby watch marchers

Shoppers on busy Jamiaca Avenue watch the protestors

Rally call to the protesters

Father and son protest together

Immigrants look on

Councilman Charles Barron joins the crowd in protest


Angry Protesters took to the streets


Man tries to organize the outraged crowd for an impromptu march down Jamaica Avenue...through a makeshift bullhorn.

Shoutin' all around

41 50. A reference to the 1999 shooting of unarmed African immigrant Amadou Diallo

Reverend Sharpton's car departs the rally through the crowd

Councilman Charles Barron greets a protester at the rally

Words are exchanged between angry protesters.

Angry Protester

Crowd stops traffic to take to the streets

Civil rights advocate Reverend Al Sharpton marches with the victims grieving fiancee, Nicole Paultre


Reverand Al Sharpton, Reverend Herbert Daughtery, and State Senator Malcolm Smith, D-Queens at the rally.

Rally crowd outside of Mary Immaculate Hospital, where two other shooting victims are listed in critical condition


Family processes into Rufus King Park in Jamaica, Queens where the rally was held.


Reverend Sharpton, Reverend Daughtery and State Senator Malcolm Smith led the prayer vigil and rally


One of many rally sinages

Man praying as Reverend Sharpton leads the prayer vigil

Mary Immaculate Hospital where Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield lay in critical condition from the barrage of bullets that hit them during the shooting

Sharpton with relatives of the shooting victims



Friday, November 03, 2006