By Ivan Pereira
Sean Bell’s family will have to wait a little longer before they can get approval to rename the Jamaica street where the 23-year-old bridegroom was killed in a 50-shot barrage by police.
Community Board 12 voted Wednesday to postpone a vote to rename Liverpool Street between 94th and 101st avenues, where Bell was killed, because it did not receive a mandatory letter from City Councilman Thomas White (D-Jamaica) in time. William Bell, the victim’s father, was initially frustrated with the decision because he and dozens of his son’s family and friends came to the meeting in anticipation of the vote on the renaming.
“We did all the paperwork. It’s all done,” he said.
Bell was killed on Nov. 25, 2006, outside the Kalua Cabaret where he was celebrating his bachelor party with friends. Five undercover police officers fired 50 shots at Bell, 23, Joseph Guzman, 33, and Trent Benefield, 25, because they mistakenly believed one of them had a gun.
Benefield and Guzman survived the barrage and were hospitalized for weeks with serious injuries. Three of the undercover officers were charged in the shooting but were exonerated last year in a bench trial.
According to Michelle Keller, the head of the board’s Transportation Committee, she had talked with the Bell family about the process and approved their proposal for the renaming. However, since White personally delivered his letter of support at the meeting at the last second, the official vote by the board could not be made until next month.
“The Bell family know and understand we support the issue, so let’s follow the protocol,” she said.
Some board members thought an exception should have been made for the Bell family and asked for a motion to vote on the proposal during Wednesday’s meeting. The motion was denied with a 15-7 vote.
Despite having to wait another month, the Bell family accepted the compromise.
“It feels good to know that we have backing,” said Nicole Paultre-Bell, Bell’s fiancée following the meeting.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.