Thursday, May 1, 2008

Queens Tolls the Bell of Justice

By Tony Vega

The Sean Bell verdict was handed down Friday, proclaiming three NYPD officers not- guilty in the police shooting death of an armed 23-year-old Queens man.

That’s right folks you read that right, an “armed” man. That man was Sean Bell and he was armed and fully loaded with booze and a 3000-pound vehicle. Sean Bell struck a NYC police detective and a police vehicle.

The rules of engagement and justification laws are clear as defined by The NYS Penal Code. The use of deadly physical force (DPF) is necessary to defend the police officer or another person from what the officer reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of DPF.

A 3000-pound vehicle when used as a weapon qualifies as DPF, particularly in addition to verbal statements from the Bell party referencing to “gat” and “Yo, get my gun, get my gun.” The totality of these events would lead a reasonable person in this circumstance to reasonably believe that the use of DPF is imminent and/or in fact being used, be it by the vehicle or firearm.

NYPD rules may dictate that an officer not utilize DPF against a moving vehicle unless DPF from other than the vehicle is being utilized (ex. someone shooting from inside the vehicle) this does not supersede State law.

Sean Bell by the nature of his lifestyle essentially committed suicide via police, certainly a tragic scenario. The actions of his chosen revelers namely Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield also heavily contributed to the death of Sean Bell as well as to their own sustained injuries.

Mr. Guzman was reportedly engaged in a dispute with a female inside the social club. As Bell’s friends left the scene one of them uttered, “Yo, get my gun and kill that dumb white bitch.” Undercover officers investigating a prostitution ring at the seedy establishment overheard this.

Mr. Bell had a past record for illegally possessing a firearm and allegedly sold drugs two months prior to the shooting. Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, who were also shot in the incident, had been arrested numerous times for illegal firearm possession and drug sales. Guzman has spent approximately 5-years in prison. After the incident Mr. Benefield continued on his violent path and allegedly assaulted his pregnant girlfriend, he was ordered to attend behavioral counseling.

The tragedy on November 25, 2006 did not end with the life of Sean Bell. It was a tragic loss of justice when three NYPD officers were arrested and prosecuted for those events; Police officers that have sworn to defend the very city that failed to defend them.

Police officers that enjoyed good employment records and reputations were excoriated in the media and the courts. American men that held honorable jobs and families, men that were pursuing the American dream, men that were innocent of criminal behavior. These men happened to be Americans of color, but their positive and productive lifestyles were in direct contrast to the negative and criminal lifestyles to the men of color that earned NYC’s sympathy and Al Sharpton‘s support. Once again, Mr. Sharpton marched for the wrong cause. The acquittal was justice served.

The actions of all police officers should be scrutinized. Police officers hold a tremendous amount of public trust and power. Scrutiny and a higher standard should be expected and demanded. Political prosecution and pandering should never enter the arena. A proverbial quote comes to mind, “the difference between the way things are and the way they should be, will drive a sensitive man crazy.” I pray that these officers maintain their strength and courage.

It is shameful and tragic that Al Sharpton is given a stage to polarize NYC in order to further his pitiful agenda. Shameful and tragic not only because main stream folks allow a race arsonist to line his pockets on the backs of the very people he claims to represent, but what is ignored as a result. Actual crimes and the loss of innocent human life that occurs every day on the mean streets of NY and elsewhere are ignored. Black on black crime is a reality that rips apart families across America. The silence of the Sharptons of the world is deafening. Personal responsibility and empowerment are put aside and ignored.

Al Sharpton has a proven track record of fanning the flames of racial unrest. If he were a fire fighter, he would respond and fight the fire with gasoline. When Barack Obama cautioned restraint and correctly stated that violence in response to the verdict will be counter productive, Al Sharpton scoffed. Sharpton reportedly claimed that Obama was merely “grandstanding in front of white people” I wonder if they were “typical white people.” What say you Barack?

Al Sharpton has continued to champion causes where the “victims” have falsely accused innocent people and caused irreparable damage to careers, lives, and families. The Tawana Brawley case and the Duke Lacrosse case are two notable examples. It is sad that the silence of the Sharptons of the world is expected and apologies are not.

Assaults upon and murders of police officers, including officers of color, are reported in the newspapers and forgotten. The silence of the Sharptons of the world is accepted.

When are the police officers going to march?

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