Sean Bell with fiance and child. Bell was killed on saturday by New York police just hours before the wedding was to take place. The plainclothes cops, who did not identify themselves, fired 50 shots at the vehicle where Bell was murdered.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire Photo File.
Family Members of NYPD Shooting Victim Cope With Shock, Uncertainty
By the AOL BV News Staff
Shannon Stapleton, Reuters
A man was reflected on the window of a car which was damaged by a bullet on the day Sean Bell, a bridegroom whom police said was shot and killed on his wedding day outside a New York strip club on Saturday, in New York November 27, 2006. Bell was killed and two other men wounded after police opened fire on them, police said.
Protesters Demand Answers From NYPD; Mayor Discusses Shooting
Joseph Guzman, 31, is a bear of a man with two kids and a close-knit family. He now lies in a hospital bed at Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica, Queens, his body riddled with at least eleven police bullets after a confrontation with undercover New York City officers last Friday night.
The shooting, outside a Queens strip club, capped a bachelor night party for one of Guzman's friends, Sean Bell, who was killed in a barrage of gunfire and who was to be married just a few hours later to the mother of his two children. A third man -- Trent Bennifield, 23 -- was also shot and is hospitalized in stable condition. The men were not armed and neither of the survivors has been charged with any crimes.
The incident has set off a storm of outrage and anger that has engulfed all of New York City and beyond, raising old questions about police officers, young black man and guns. And the sometimes low threshold across which life is lost when the three come together.
For family members dealing with the tragedy of a dead or critically-wounded relative, and massive media coverage, the events can be both excruciatingly painful and numbing at the same time.
"It's surreal" says Deveter Brown, who is Guzman's 32-year-old cousin. She visited him Monday night in the hospital.
"I'm at a loss for words." She said Guzman was heavily sedated and on oxygen and could not speak. But, she said, he was aware of who was there. "He knew who was coming in and out," she said. "A bullet grazed his face, and he's has what looks like a burn mark on his face." Guzman is listed in critical condition.
"It just doesn't feel real to see my cousin laying up in a hospital bed. I mean, his friend was getting married." She said Bell and Guzman were childhood friends.
Even the hospital visit was anxiety producing, she said. Beyond the worrying about her cousin's prognosis, Brown said that a large police presence makes the hospital on 150th Street in central Queens, feel like an armed camp. "Just getting the visitor badge you feel intimidated."
The police commissioner, Ray Kelley, has acknowledged that the officers made some unusual moves during the shooting. Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown has pledged that a case will be presented to a grand jury, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg has declared the police response "unacceptable" and "inexplicable."
Which only makes it more painful for Brown and her relatives, who say the men involved -- especially her cousin -- were not the trouble-causing type. "Joey is the kind of guy who diffuses situations not starts them," she said, recalling that he was a big wrestling fan when he was younger. "He and his dad were always wrestling, but when it got too rough, he was always the one to say 'Alright. Enough; let's stop.' "
Already, she said, family members are worried about the outcome: "The most disturbing thing about this is that these officers are on paid leave; that this is not the first time that this has happened in New York City; that we might not get justice." she said. "Is there going to be any justice?"