New York Mayor Tries to Quell Outrage over Killing

New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly meet with community leaders upset by an the shooting death of an unarmed African-American man by police over the weekend. Police fired more than 50 shots into the vehicle driven by Sean Bell after it crashed into an unmarked police car.

Mayor Bloomberg says that "excessive force" may have been used in the police shooting of three unarmed black men.

Queens resident Sean Bell was leaving his bachelor party on the morning of his wedding when police fired 50 shots into his car, killing Bell and wounding two of his friends.

After protests this weekend in Bell's neighborhood, Mayor Bloomberg met with African-American leaders Monday morning and promised a thorough investigation.

Bishop Lester Williams was supposed to officiate at the marriage of Sean Bell and his fiancée on Saturday. Standing outside City Hall Monday morning, he remembered the 23-year-old as "a very good young man that does not deserve to die in the street like he did."

Then Williams pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket. "I'm saddened," he said. "I have the marriage license right here. This is what we were hoping for; we were hoping for a wedding, not a death certificate."

Williams and other pastors and elected officials from Queens, came to meet with the Mayor Bloomberg this morning to demand that something be done after this weekend's police shooting. City Councilman Charles Barron wanted the resignation of Police Chief Ray Kelly.

Even though the officers involved in the shooting were black, white and Latino, Barron, who is black, said the shooting still smacked of racism.

"We want them suspended," Barron said, calling for a grand-jury investigation. "Let the chips fall where they may."

There haven't been many details released about what happened early Saturday morning outside of the Kalua Caberet club in Queens. The officers involved are on administrative leave and still being questioned.

But investigators have found 50 bullets on the scene, all of them fired by the five officers. The three men shot were not armed — a fact Mayor Bloomberg called deeply disturbing.

"It's hard to understand why 50-odd shots should happen," Bloomberg said. "What exactly happened, I don't know. That's up to the investigation."

The officers were part of an undercover team investigating violations at the club. Police say one of the officers heard someone in Bell's group mention a gun. Bell and his friends then got into their vehicle and hit an undercover officer and a police van.

The officers began shooting soon after. But Bloomberg, citing police procedure, stressed that alone wasn't enough to justify deadly force.

Related NPR Stories

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.