Bell family begins vigil to demand indictment

By Craig Giammona

Valerie Bell did not speak at an impromptu press conference held on the sidewalk across the precinct in front of a banner emblazoned with a large picture of Bell and 50 faux bullet holes. Neville Mitchell, one of the lawyers representing Bell's family, asked reporters not to approach her.Mitchell said the 24-hour a day vigil, which began at 4:56 a.m. Jan. 1, will continue for 50 days, or as long as it takes for a grand jury to indict at least some of the officers involved in Bell's death.”We'll be here. We want an indictment,” Mitchell said.Mitchell also announced that anyone wishing to participate in the vigil should call 1-866-695-2992.Bell was killed by police, who fired 50 bullets, Nov. 25 as he left Kalua Cabaret on 94th Avenue. He was to be married that day and had been at a bachelor party with two friends, who were also shot and unarmed.The sidewalk next to the banner was littered with Dunkin' Donuts cups and lanterns Tuesday morning, as Bell's friends and members of his family settled in for a vigil that will go on for close to two months.”It doesn't matter how warm it is, we'll be out here,” said Daryl Martin, Bell's uncle. Martin said the vigil would be manned 24 hours a day by at least three people. “We're not going to leave anyone alone out here,” he said.The vigil came amid news reports that a grand jury will begin examining evidence in the case this week. A spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, however, said she could not confirm or deny the reports and declined to comment on whether a grand jury would be empaneled.The spokeswoman also said Trent Benefield, who was also shot by police the night Bell died, was in Queens Criminal Court Friday to answer three outstanding summonses. Benefield was reportedly picked up by police last Thursday at an alleged gambling den in Harlem. The summonses were for trespassing, disorderly conduct and an open container violation. The spokeswoman said the trespassing and disorderly conduct charges were dismissed, while Benefield is due back in court on the open container ticket.Reach reporter Craig Giammona by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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