After realizing that none of his officers were hit, Lieutenant Napoli says his initial thoughts were:
Just to see that, thank God, none of us were hurt and we were going home.”
Apparently he thought that the 'Negroes with guns" had been dealt with. Now not having seen the transcript I can only guess that Napoli wasn't thinking something like: "Hmmmmm...we haven't been shot at." or "Hmmmm, did we make a mistake?"
But there's something more to this testimony.
As he got closer to the car, Lieutenant Napoli told Detective Michael Oliver to call an ambulance. Lieutenant Napoli said he could not remember if any of his detectives were wearing their badges.
As we discussed in Sean Bell Watch Part 2, the timeline says that the undercover officers, specifically Isanora had returned to the command vehicle and retrieved their guns and shields. So by that account Isanora had his shield on his person. However; there is no documentation that I've seen that says definitively that Isanora ever put there badge on his jacket, shirt collar or any other place that would be visible. We know that Isanora had his cell phone in one hand while following Bell and co. That's one hand down. Now the question that needs to be answered is when did Isanora unholster his weapon. Did Isanora have a cell phone in one hand and his gun in the other? If he had a cell phone in one hand and his gun in the other it is impossible for him to have shown his badge to Bell and co. That would bolster the claim that Isanora did not show his badge.
The next piece of testimony that is important is this:
But under questioning from Mr. Testagrossa, Lieutenant Napoli confirmed that undercover detectives do not generally make arrests; rather, they are supposed to alert their backup units to handle that.
I said before that one of the biggest problem here was that there were clear violations of NYPD protocol which, if they had been followed would have resulted in a far different outcome. Those protocols are in place not only to protect police officers but also the innocent population. What makes this case open and shut is policy and the broad admission that policy was not followed. Back in November of 2006 I wrote the police code.
NY rules in regards to shooting at a vehicle is as follows:
officers can fire only when they or another person is threatened by deadly physical force, but not if that physical force comes from a moving vehicle alone.
So at this point since all evidence shows that even if any occupant in the vehicle had a gun, unless the officer was fired upon they, under regulations cannot shoot at the vehicle. Thus this was, by the cops own words, an unjustified shooting. What were the cops words:
The undercover officer fired the first of 11 shots, yelling, “He’s got a gun! He’s got a gun!”
Notice the cop said "he's got a gun" (leaving aside the fact that no gun was even present). He didn't say anything about being shot at Which would be the only way, under police regulations for the officers to "return" fire.
The Times reports Napoli saying:
With Detective Headley driving, Lieutenant Napoli in the passenger seat and Detective Cooper in the back seat, their car turned south onto Liverpool Street from 94th Avenue, the lieutenant said. He spotted Detective Isnora, who raised his chin in an upward motion, gesturing toward Mr. Bell’s car, he said.
They drove past Mr. Bell’s car and were coming to a stop when he bent down to reach for the flashing bubble light to place on the dashboard, he said. Before he could get to it, Lieutenant Napoli said, he heard a collision and then gunshots.
“I told Marc and Paul, ‘Get down, we’re under fire,’ ” Lieutenant Napoli testified.
So the rules are clear. No shooting at a moving vehicle alone. Even if the force is deadly. Napoli knows this and his testimony on the stand as of Friday confirms that shots were fired by police after the Bell tried to escape the "Negro with a gun" who apparently had a cell phone in one hand and his gun in the other, and therefore was most likely unable to ID himself as a police officer. Besides, the aforementioned testimony makes the "who had a gun" argument moot.