I was in seventh grade when Amadou Diallo was shot forty one times in New York. I presented the story for our weekly “Current Events” report, and remember even then wondering how there was enough ambient light to (mistakenly) identify Diallo as a suspect, but not enough to recognize his wallet as a wallet, and not as a gun.
Sean Bell too was cut down in a hail of NYPD bullets, he was getting married that morning. He had two children.: (From CNN)
Witnesses said that about 4 a.m., closing time, as Bell and his friends left the club, an argument broke out. Believing that one of Bell’s friends, Joseph Guzman, was going to get a gun from Bell’s car, one of the undercover detectives followed the men and called for backup.
What happened next was at the heart of the trial, prosecuted by the assistant district attorney in Queens.
Bell, Guzman and Trent Benefield got into the car, with Bell at the wheel. The detectives drew their weapons, said Guzman and Benefield, who testified that they never heard the plain-clothes detectives identify themselves as police.
Bell was in a panic to get away from the armed men, his friends testified.
But the detectives thought Bell was trying to run down one of them, according to their lawyers, believed that their lives were in danger and started shooting.
In a frantic 911 call, police can be heard saying, “Shots fired. Undercover units involved.”
A total of 50 bullets were fired by five NYPD officers. Only three were charged with crimes.
Oliver, who reloaded his semiautomatic in the middle of the fray, fired 31 times, Isnora fired 11 times, and Cooper, whose leg was brushed by Bell’s moving car, fired four times, the NYPD said.
No gun was found near Bell or his friends.
The acquittal isn’t surprising, but honestly, how many times does this have to happen? When are they going to realize that the age old stereotypes about the big black brute are influencing police behavior? When are they going to notice that anything from pulling out a wallet to trying to drive away from men who’ve drawn guns on you are intrepreted as violent acts deserving of violence? How many times? And why all the denial?
When Springsteen performed 41 shots, a song penned in response to the Amadou Diallo case, and recieved mixed response given the content. “The song appears to be an even-handed attempt to explain the tensions between police and minorities, as shown in the lyrics”