Bell trial decision due on April 25

On Friday April 25, Queens Supreme Court Justice Arthur Cooperman is expected to hand down his verdict in the nearly seven-week-long trial of the three detectives accused of killing groom-to-be Sean Bell on what would have been his wedding day.
Final arguments were made on Monday, April 14 as both the prosecution and defense rested.
“The defendants were not justified in using deadly force - not from the first shot,” prosecutor Charles Testagrossa said in his closing, according to published reports. “We ask police to risk their lives to protect ours - not to risk our lives to protect theirs.”
Testagrossa, who said, essentially, that defense lawyers focused more on the personal character of Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman - the other men wounded in the 50-bullet barrage on November 25, 2006 - also claimed that during the trial, “we’ve started to lose sight of the fact that Sean Bell, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield are victims,” according to reports.
Undercover police officers in the midst of a sting operation fired 50 shots outside the Jamaica strip club Bell, 23, Guzman and Benefield were exiting the night before Bell’s wedding. The shots killed Bell, sent his two friends to the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds and raised the ire of many city officials, community leaders and the local citizenry.
The detectives said they heard Guzman tell a friend to get his gun and they followed the party to Bell’s car when Detective Gescard Isnora claimed he saw Guzman reach for a gun so he opened fire. No gun in the possession of Guzman or anyone else at the scene was found.
Much of the trial testimony has revolved around whether the officers identified themselves as NYPD prior to firing.
In closing arguments, defense lawyers - who maintain that the detectives did, in fact, display their shields and identify themselves - also said the cops believed they were being fired on.
Both Isnora, who shot 11 times, and Detective Michael Oliver, who fired 31 shots, face up to 25 years in prison. They have pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges. Detective Marc Cooper, who fired four times and may face a year in jail if convicted, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of reckless endangerment.

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