The three cops who killed Sean Bell on his wedding day in a 50-bullet barrage were cleared of all charges Friday - sparking tears inside the courtroom and anger on the streets outside. “The defendants are not guilty of all charges,” Queens Supreme Court Justice Arthur Cooperman declared. “The burden was on the people to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Each defendant was assumed to be innocent.” Cooperman said justification was used as a defense, he had to consider the “mindset of the defendants, not the victims. What the victims did, was more important to resolve the issues at hand than what was in their minds.”
Oliver, who fired 31 times and reloaded once, and Isnora, who fired 11 times, had been charged with manslaughter, felony assault and reckless endangerment. They faced up to 25 years in prison if convicted on all charges. Cooper, who fired four times, faced up to a year in jail if convicted of reckless endangerment. None of the detectives testified, although their grand jury testimony was read out loud at the trial. Sean Bell’s father, William, said he would call on the feds to try the cops for violating his son’s civil rights if they were acquitted.
Bell, a 23-year-old father of two, was killed on Nov. 25, 2006 near the Queens strip club where he’d just had his bachelor bash. His friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, were badly wounded when the cops opened fire on Bell’s car.