It's real nice when your own Mayor sells you out to the press before the investigation is done, hell before all the witnesses are even interviewed. This man is the worst thing that ever happened to NYC. Rudy in 08!
NEW YORK - November 27, 2006 - Mayor Michael Bloomberg emerged from a meeting with the police commissioner and community leaders Monday and said that it seemed like "excessive force was used" when a groom was killed on his wedding day by a flurry of police gunfire outside a strip club.
"I can tell you that it is to me unacceptable or inexplicable how you can have 50-odd shots fired, but that's up to the investigation to find out what really happened," Bloomberg said at a news conference after the meeting.
The groom, Sean Bell, 23, was killed and two of his friends were wounded Saturday at 4 a.m. after a bachelor party at the strip club. Suspecting that one of the men had a gun, police fired 50 rounds into the vehicle. The men were unarmed.
Bloomberg was joined by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. Charles Rangel, and several other officials and community leaders at the meeting.
Sharpton called it a "very candid, a very blunt meeting." He said the message to Bloomberg was: "This city must show moral outrage that 50 shots were fired on three unarmed men."
Bloomberg was steadfast in his support for Kelly, who has been denounced by some community leaders over the shooting.
"I think he's the best police commissioner the city has ever had," Bloomberg said. "Nobody takes this more seriously than Commissioner Kelly and I do."
The shooting stemmed from an undercover operation inside the Kalua Cabaret, where seven officers in plain clothes were investigating alleged prostitution and drug use.
Kelly has said the groom was involved in an argument outside the club after 4 a.m., and one of his friends made a reference to a gun. He has said that police shot at the car after it struck an undercover officer and an unmarked NYPD minivan. The information was based on interviews with witnesses and with two officers who did not fire their weapons, he said.
An undercover officer walked closely behind Bell and his friends as they headed for their car. As he walked toward the front of the vehicle, they drove forward - striking him and an undercover police vehicle, Kelly said.
The officer who had followed the group on foot was apparently the first to open fire, Kelly said. One 12-year veteran fired his weapon 31 times, emptying two full magazines, Kelly said.
Of the victims, Bloomberg said Monday: "There is no evidence that they were doing anything wrong."
The shooting has brought back memories of the 1999 killing of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed West African immigrant who was shot 19 times in the Bronx by police.
Rangel said this weekend's shooting "reminds me of a tragedy that took place with Mr. Diallo. And we can't have that. We can't have that."
A crowd of at least a few hundred gathered Sunday at a vigil and rally to demand resolution.
The rally, led by Sharpton, shouted "No justice, no peace," and at least one city councilman called for the ouster of the city Kelly, yelling "Kelly must go."
Bell's fiancee, Nicole Paultre, made a quiet visit to the shooting site before dawn Monday, lighting candles clustered around a photograph of the smiling couple with one of their daughters.
The survivors were Joseph Guzman, 31, who was shot at least 11 times, and Trent Benefield, 23, who was hit three times. Guzman remained in critical condition and Benefield in stable condition on Monday morning.
Relatives of the men attended Sunday's vigil and rally but none spoke publicly.
The five officers who fired were placed on paid administrative leave and had their guns removed, a procedure that is administrative but not disciplinary, while the investigation goes on.
The police department's policy on shooting at moving vehicles states: "Police officers shall not discharge their firearms at or from a moving vehicle unless deadly force is being used against the police officers or another person present, by means other than a moving vehicle."
In the Diallo case, the four officers were acquitted of criminal charges. And in 2003, Ousmane Zongo was shot to death during a police raid. In another similar case, the 43-year-old native of Burkina Faso, another West African nation, was hit four times, twice in the back. In that case, one officer was convicted of criminally negligent homicide, but acquitted of the more serious charge of second-degree manslaughter.