Cop in Bell shooting sues city to get job back

POOL: Detective Gescard Isnora (right partially hidden- with his attorney Philip Karasyk - left.) The arraignment of three detectives charged in connection of the fatal shooting of Sean Bell last November. Original Filename: IMG_7437.JPG
Photo by Jesse Ward
By Rich Bockmann

William Bell said Tuesday he did not believe Gescard Isnora, the former NYPD detective who was fired for his involvement in the deadly 2006 shooting of his son, Sean Bell, should get his job back.

“He doesn’t deserve to have his job back, period. That’s how I feel,” Bell said.

Isnora, who fired the first shot in a hail of 50 bullets outside a Jamaica night club Nov. 25, 2006, escaped criminal charges but was terminated from his job in March following an NYPD trial that concluded he had acted recklessly and unnecessarily.

Sean Bell, 23, had been celebrating his bachelor party with friends Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield at the Kalua Cabaret hours before he was to be married.

Isnora was part of an NYPD team investigating suspected drug and prostitution operations at the club.

In his testimony at the internal Police Department trial, Isnora said he opened fire because he believed Guzman was going to his car to get a gun.

NYPD Detectives Michael Oliver and Marc Cooper, as well as Lt. Gary Napoli reached plea deals with the department and were allowed to resign with part of their pensions.

The New York Post reported Tuesday that Isnora had filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court claiming his firing was arbitrary and capricious, calling the shooting incident a “highly publicized firearms discharge.”

William Bell spoke on the phone with TimesLedger Newspapers from the Sean Elijah Bell Community Center, which the family opened in 2011.

“I’ve got 88 kids here, and I’m trying to teach them not to fear the cops,” he said. “I’m trying to teach them all cops aren’t bad. I’m trying to encourage the cops in the neighborhood to get to know these kids.”

The city Law Department released a statement saying it did not expect Isnora’s lawsuit to be successful.

“The police commissioner’s decision to terminate Officer Isnora was supported by the evidence at his departmental trial. We expect the court to uphold the termination,” said city attorney Georgia Pestana.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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