Detective Oliver proclaims ‘I didn’t want to die’ at Bell trail

Detective Michael Oliver - who fired 31 of the 50 shots at Sean Bell and his friends, including the fatal one - claimed in testimony that he heard fellow Detective Gescard Isnora yell “He’s got a gun! He’s got a gun!” before shooting, according to published reports.
Oliver, who expressed sadness, went on to tell the court on Monday, March 24 that before firing, he identified himself as an officer, and that during the fracas, he feared for his life, but that he maintained proper police protocol.
“I didn’t want to die,” said Oliver, according to published reports. “I reloaded the gun and I continued to fire, and the shots still are going on around me. I didn’t know where they were coming from. You are trained to keep shooting until you eliminate that threat.”
Oliver’s testimony is in sharp contrast to that of NYPD Lieutenant Michael Wheeler, who said that on scene, Oliver claims to have not remembered shooting.
No gun was found in Bell’s car.
In earlier proceedings, Isnora was pointed out in court by a man attending Bell’s bachelor party the night of November 25, 2006.
“I remember his face,” Johnell Hankerson told the courtroom before pointing out the cop on Monday, March 24.
However, Hankerson said, he did not know that Isnora was a police officer when he allegedly approached Bell’s Altima, gun drawn. Earlier, Isnora had told a grand jury that he had identified himself as an officer, a fact that remains in question.
Hankerson also testified that he had suspicions that the men cruising by slowly in the Toyota Camry were police.
“They were moving kind of slow,” he said, according to published reports. “They were very observant, looking at people on the right side of the street. I was trying to figure out why would there be a white and a black man on this dark street this time of night.”
The witness claimed he caught sight of the carful of cops before he noticed Isnora approaching Bell’s vehicle.
According to published reports, right before the shooting started, Hankerson recalled thinking, “If these guys are police officers, he’s got a gun out. Things could get really ugly out here.”
He testified that he did not hear any of the undercovers yell “police” as the barrage of bullets began.
Both Isnora and Oliver, who face up to 25 years in prison, have pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges. Detective Marc Cooper, who may face a year in jail if convicted, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of reckless endangerment.

More from Around New York