Officers in Sean Bell Shooting Forced Out of Police Department

March 26, 2012  |  

It took nearly six years, but three of the five police officers involved in the November 2006 shooting and killing of Sean Bell have now been forced to leave the New York Police Department.

The NYPD says Police Commissioner Ray Kelly will not overturn a department trial judge’s ruling that Detective Gescard Isnora be fired. Isnora was the first cop to open fire on Bell after he said he heard one of the men say “Get my gun” outside a Jamaica, Queens, strip club the night before his wedding day. No gun was ever found. As part of the disciplinary action, Isnora will not receive his pension nor retirement and health benefits. Two other detectives who fired shots, Michael Oliver and Marc Cooper, will resign from the force, as will Lieutenant Gary Napoli, who was the NYPD supervisor at the scene of the shooting.

Sean Bell’s parents said they’re frustrated that this outcome took so long and that some officers will keep their pension benefits, not to mention the fact that none of the officers will face jail time. Isnora, Cooper, and Oliver were all acquitted of criminal charges in the case.

“You tell me he deserves a pension? Think about it, people got to think about these things, how they do things. It’s not fair to us. We lost our son,” said Sean’s father, William Bell.

But while Sean’s fiance and parents believe the disciplinary action isn’t enough, in a statement the Detectives Endowment Association said the decision to fire Isnora is excessive.

“Stripping a cop of his livelihood and an opportunity for a vested retirement is punishment reserved for cops who have… disgraced the shield, not for someone who has acted within the law.”

In terms of a civil outcome, in 2010, Sean Bell’s estate and his two friends, Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman, who were severely injured during the shooting, were awarded a $7 million settlement. The family doesn’t feel they’ve received the same justice in the criminal side of the case.

Do you think all of the officers’ pensions should be taken away or do you feel the punishments established by the trial judge are sufficient?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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