By Sadef Ali Kully
Valerie Bell, whose unarmed son Sean Bell was killed the night before his wedding in a hail of 50 police bullets nearly nine years ago outside a Jamaica nightclub , has called for having independent prosecutors handle cases involving police fatalities.
She testified at a hearing before state legislators on criminal justice reform in Albany March 11.
“We need someone who is independent of local police departments and local politics to investigate and prosecute these cases,” Bell said.
Supported by the Justice Committee, a Latina/Latino-led organization dedicated to building a movement against police violence and systemic racism in the city, Bell is one of 18 family members of people killed by cops who wrote to Gov. Andrew Cuomo urging him to sign an executive order assigning a special prosecutor to handle all cases of police-related deaths, according to the Justice Committee.
In 2008, three officers from the 103rd Precinct, who fired bullets into the car that Bell’s son was driving in Jamaica, were acquitted of manslaughter and reckless endangerment by a State
Supreme Court judge. Bell, 23, was unarmed. His two companions were also shot but survived.
In 2012, the NYPD fired one dectective, Gescard Isnora, and forced three other police officers, Marc Cooper, Michael Oliver and commanding officer Gary Napoli, to retire for their roles in the 2006 shooting of Sean Bell.
Cuomo has proposed legislation to to monitor and review similar cases where there is no indictment and make recommendations to a special prosecutor.
“At a moment when our city is still reeling from the injustices done to Eric Garner, Akai Gurley and many others, we are disappointed that the governor’s criminal justice reform agenda does not include meaningful steps towards ensuring police accountability,” the Justice Committee said in a release.
Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skull