The Bell Shooting One Year Later . . .‘I miss him with all my heart’

She was dressed all in white - not for her wedding - but for a somber memorial to remember her slain fianc/ Sean Bell.
On what should have been a joyous occasion - their one-year wedding anniversary - Nicole Paultre Bell led a vigil for the man cut down in a hail of 50 police bullets on November 25, 2006 - his scheduled wedding day.
Now, a year later, three of the five officers involved in the fatal shooting have been indicted; the two other men injured - Trent Benefield, 23, and Joseph Guzman, 31 - are recovering; and the family of the victim is still fighting for justice.
“I miss him with all my heart,” said Paultre Bell, 23, in published reports. “My kids miss him. And we’re doing the best that we can do to get through this.”
The overnight vigil - attended by about 100 family member, friends and supporters - was held at Liverpool Street between 94th and 95th Avenues in Jamaica, where Bell was shot as he left his bachelor party at the Kalua Cabaret.
When Paultre Bell saw her would-be mother-in-law, the mother of Jada, 4, and Jordyn, 1, broke down in tears - at the exact spot where her intended groom was killed.
“I want justice, but no matter what happens, it won’t bring Sean back,” she said, according to published reports.
Attendees braved the cold for hours, and dozens of candles were lit in Bell’s memory.
The vigil culminated with a memorial service led by Reverend Al Sharpton at Praise Tabernacle Church, at which time he vowed to stand by the grieving family until justice is served.
“I’ve seen them laugh, I’ve seen them cry, I’ve seen them through ups, I’ve seen them through downs,” Sharpton said in reports. “I’ve seen them when the city’s celebrating and I’ve seen them when some vicious and unfair things have been written about them. One thing I have not seen is their commitment to Sean waver.”
Later in the day, Bella Vita restaurant, where a wedding was to have taken place a year ago, was the site of a remembrance dinner.
In March of 2007, detectives Michael Oliver and Gescard Isnora were charged with manslaughter. Detective Marc Cooper faces charges of reckless endangerment.
Recently, a Queens judge postponed the trial against the officers, and it is now expected to begin in February of 2008.

Sean Bell Shooting Timeline
Saturday, November 25, 2006

  • Five undercover police officers open fire on a vehicle with Sean Bell and his two friends killing Bell and injuring Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield.
  • Detectives Gescard Isnora, Michael Oliver, Michael Carey, Marc Cooper and Paul Headley fire 50 shots during the melee outside the Kalua Cabaret in Jamaica.

    Sunday, November 26

  • Bishop Lester Williams, pastor of the Community Church of Christ who was to have married Bell and 22-year-old Nicole Paultre at 5 p.m. the prior evening, instead leads a service to mourn Bell’s passing.

    Wednesday, November 29

  • Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton lead Bell’s relatives and community members during a visit to the shooting site where a makeshift memorial is in place.

    Friday, December 1

  • Bishop Williams officiates at Bell’s funeral at the Community Church of Christ. Despite the pouring rain, the church fills to overflowing with loudspeakers broadcasting the service to mourners outside.

    Thursday, December 7

  • Nicole Paultre legally changes her name to Nicole Paultre Bell.
    Monday, January 1, 2007

  • Sean Bell’s mother, Valerie, announces 50-day vigil outside the 103rd Precinct.

    Monday, January 22

  • The 23-member Queens grand jury begins hearing evidence to determine whether any of the five officers who opened fire on Bell’s car will face criminal charges.

    Friday, March 16

  • The grand jury finishes its deliberations. Although its decision was not officially released by the district attorney’s office until Monday, March 19, news quickly spreads that the jury has returned three indictments in the case. Oliver and Isnora were charged with manslaughter and Cooper with reckless endangerment.

    Friday, September 7

  • State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Cooperman rejected a defense motion to dismiss charges against officers Oliver, Isnora and Cooper.

    Wednesday, November 14

  • A Queens judge delays the beginning of the trials until February of 2008 to give the defense more time to prepare for the case.
    - Compiled by Pete Davis

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