Glass could seem like shots: Bell trial

By Ivan Pereira

Alexander Jason, a free-lance senior crime scene analyst from California who was hired by attorneys representing Detectives Michael Oliver, Gescard Isnora and Marc Cooper, showed Queens Supreme Court Justice Arthur Cooperman the results of several types of tests he undertook to recreate the shooting that occurred outside a Jamaica strip club.Jason produced images of a window that was shot by a police handgun in the same angle and distance as Isnora would have fired and said the “blowback” of shattered glass from a gunshot could have confusedhis nearby partners as to who opened fire.”Glass is projected in the direction of the bullet but also backwards towards the shooter,” he testified Monday.On Nov. 25, 2006, Oliver, Isnora, Cooper and two partners, Detective Paul Headley and Officer Michael Carey, fired 50 shots at Bell's sedan, killing the bridegroom and injuring his two friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, because they thought one of them had a gun and was going to use it in an argument. No gun was ever found.Bell, 23, and his friends were celebrating his bachelor party at the Kalua Cabaret, which was being investigated by police for suspected drug and prostitution operations. The strip club lost its state liquor license Friday, according to the New York State Liquor Authority.In March 2007, Oliver, who fired 31 shots and reloaded, and Isnora, who fired first and shot 11 times, were indicted on manslaughter and reckless endangerment charges. Cooper, who fired four times, was charged with reckless endangerment. Carey, who shot three times, and Headley, who fired once, were not indicted.Prosecutors contend that the detectives failed to properly identify themselves before they approached Bell on the corner of Liverpool Street and 94th Avenue around 4 a.m. that morning, but defense attorneys claim their clients believed their lives were in danger.Assistant District Attorney Peter Reese accused Jason, who has worked with the U.S. Department of Justice and produced crime scene investigation tutorial DVDs, of deliberately manipulating his tests to boost the defense's claim. During cross-examination Tuesday, Reese pointed out that Jason did not include Headly in his computer analysis of bullet shell casings found at the scene.Although Jason said he had received all the information he used from police reports, Reese showed Cooperman, who will be deciding the non-jury trial, a police crime scene sketch that showed Headley's position during the shooting and the impact of his shot.Last Thursday, the defense began its case by calling Officer Carey to the stand to give his account of the shooting. Carey, who was riding next to Oliver in an unmarked police van that was rammed by Bell's Nissan Altima, said he heard Isnora warn the Rockaway resident several times that was an officer and only began shooting after Bell rammed the van.”He had his gun in his right hand and he shouted, 'Police, show your hands. Show your hands,' ” Carey recollected.Carey, who admitted that he did not shout commands, said he could not see whether or not Isnora's badge was visible from the angle at which he was positioned at but testified that he clearly saw the shield clipped to the detective's collar following the shooting.Neville Mitchell, representing Bell's parents, told reporters outside the court that he was dubious about Carey's detailed account of the shooting.”The recitation of what happened is beyond belief,” he said. “The timeline he is trying to make up is a farce.”Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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