The NY Times has a graphic and testimony snippets in the current Sean Bell shooting trial. Something about the Testimony is problematic.
Marsellies Payne, on examination is reported by the Times to have said:
Testified she last saw Mr. Bell turn on his headlights on Liverpool Street and pull away from the curb. She was to follow him and his friends to a diner for breakfast after her long night of dancing. “As he came out, a minivan came from behind me and they crashed,” she said. “The driver of the minivan got out of the car. He got out and he started shooting.” She said she was close enough to see the muzzle flash from his pistol. “I saw the fire like three times and I turned and I ran,” she said, adding that she crouched in someone's shrubs. “I waited for the gunshots to stop. It was about three seconds, and I started to get up, and the gunshots started again.”
Under cross examination the Times states:
Said she never saw Detective Isnora approach Mr. Bell's car with a gun, and never saw Mr. Bell back up after hitting the minivan, strike a wall and charge forward, hitting the van again. She said she never heard anyone shout, “Police,” and never heard any shouts or screams. She said she ran back to the Club Kalua and told the bouncer, “They're shooting down the block! They're killing those boys!” Then, after two or three minutes, she said, she ran back to her car so she could move it before the police arrived, but she was too late, arriving to see paramedics pulling bodies from Mr. Bell's car. When the police questioned her, she repeatedly denied having seen or heard anything before finally giving detectives a statement that night, she said. “I don't need this drama in my life,” she said.
Now an earlier graphic depicting the NYPD account has the following:
As the club s closing, a club dancer walks to her car parked on Liverpool Street. She sees a man she knows as "KB," and who may be Mr. Benefield, get into the back seat passenger side of what is later identified as the Nissan Altima.
While she is putting her bag in the trunk of her car, she hears what she believes is a car accelerating. She then sees about five people standing near the Altima.
She sees a minivan come down Liverpool Street and sees the Altima collide with it. Then she sees the Altima roll back and the driver of the minivan roll back and the driver of the minivan get out of his vehicle and fire shots toward the Altima. She runs and hides behind some bushes.
Now the police report is contradicted by yesterday's testimony because yesterday Ms. Payne says the car did not back up but on the day of the murder she said she did see the car back up. This is somewhat critical because the Defense is partially relying on the idea that Sean Bell was purposfully trying to run down the "Negro with the gun."
Now here's something important. the undercover police officer, who we now know to be Isanora, was holding a cell phone when he was following the men
That armed undercover detective stays on the phone with the lieutenant and follows the men, tell the lieutenant that is was "getting hot on Liverpool, for real, I think there's a gun."
But by the timeline given, it was not "getting hot on LIverpool Street". By the Times' report from the police, it was "hot" on 94th street. Again the situation could have been avoided had the officers focused on the black man by the S.U.V. who had put his hand in his jacket "suggesting" he had a gun.
Secondly given that photos of the scene show a dark colored minivan that was facing Bell head on with headlights blazing, How could Isanora's badge be seen (assuming he showed it), by Bell?
Let's run this scenario down from Bell's point of view. He's just gotten into a verbal altercation with someone with an black SUV (A Ford perhaps?), who implies that he is armed, AND has at least 5 people with him (Sean Bell's group had 3 out of 8 claimed to be involved). Sean Bell and friends get into their car, look up and see a van facing them and a guy with a gun (possibly wearing dark or black clothing as well) pointed at him. If they are like me, no sooner is the car turned on is the stereo up and loud enough to drown out most outside sounds. Sean Bell did what he thought would best save his life and acted within' the law since he is allowed to defend himself, his property and associates from perceived mortal harm.
This scenario is bolstered by testimony by Hugh Jensen who NBC says:
On Thursday, the trial's third day, Jensen, 34, recalled noticing two men -- unaware at the time it was Isnora and another undercover -- watching intently as Bell and the SUV driver squared off. He saw the man drive off as Bell and two friends walked around the corner, then heard gunfire erupt.
Again it is not uncommon for certain people to drive or walk off only to return to shoot up a place. So thus far it is clear that the only "hot" presence here was the NYPD. The NY Post, in a Sept. 2007 story wrote:
But the motion outlines what it calls a "valid defense of justification" for the slaying of Bell, saying says Isnora was "convinced" the men were "going to do a drive-by shooting" in front of the strip club.
So if the detectives could think there might be a drive by or some form of retaliation even though witnesses claim that the black SUV with one of the supposed targets of such a drive by had already driven away, why couldn't Sean Bell be convinced that his life was in mortal danger from a drive by? In fact the circumstances facing Bell were far more real than anything the Officers had faced "observing" the initial argument.
Also the following is problematic:
the papers say Isnora "saw Guzman reach down toward his waistband" after the trio got into a Nissan Altima, and yelled, "Police! Don't move!"
The car lurched forward, hitting Isnora's leg, and stopped in front of a van driven by Detective Michael Oliver. It then backed up into a wall before accelerating forward again and hitting the van.
"Convinced that if Guzman ever got to raise that hand, Detective Isnora would see a gun in it, he yelled, 'Gun!' and, 'He's got a gun!' and began firing," the motion states.
Assuming the lights were on on the Altima as well as the Ford, I would like to know what kind of Super Man vision Isanora posseses that he can see through 100 Watts of light and see a passenger reaching into his waistband which you can't see even in broad day light unless you're right up on the vehicle. Even police who do traffic stops can't see what people are reaching for. I will lay odds that Isanora had no clue if Guzman was reaching for anything other than maybe his seat belt and had no way of even knowing whether he was in danger of being shot. We do know that since it is department policy that one cannot fire on a moving vehicle, that he had ample "police time" to come up with a story that fit departmental policy.
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