New York City Police Shooting Results in $7.15M Settlement

New York City has agreed to pay $7.15 million to the family and friends of a man who was gunned down by police the night before his wedding in 2006. 

The wrongful death lawsuit settlement comes after police involved in the shooting were acquitted of manslaughter charges. Sean Bell and two friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, were leaving a Queens strip club when New York City Police officers fired at least 50 bullets at their car. Police claimed they believed Bell had a gun and was trying to run them down, however Bell and his friends were unarmed. Guzman and Benefield, also plaintiffs in the lawsuit, were seriously injured in the incident.

The shooting raised police brutality concerns that New York City Police were too quick to open fire on minorities, however federal prosecutors declined to file civil rights charges against the police officers involved in the shooting. Bell and Benefield are black and Guzman is Hispanic.

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The city has agreed to pay his fiancée, Nicole Paultre Bell, $3.25 million. It is paying Guzman, shot 11 times, $3 million and Benefield, who was shot three times, $900,000.

Paultre Bell, the mother of Bell’s two young daughters, is pushing for new state legislation that would require cops to undergo drug testing after using their firearms and would ban arrest quotas.

Three officers involved in the shooting, Detectives Michael Oliver, Marc Cooper and Gescard Isnora, were put on trial for manslaughter and reckless endangerment in 2008, but were acquitted. They alleged that Bell’s car was lurching in their direction and they thought he had a gun. Four years later, the police department has still not decided whether it will discipline any of the five total officers involved with the incident.


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