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Cop: Shooting was ‘last thing I wanted to do’

NEW YORK (AP) — A detective accused in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man on his wedding day testified he shouted Police! Don’t move! and believed the man’s friend was reaching for a weapon before officers began firing.

I felt he had a gun, and I couldn’t wait anymore, Detective Gescard Isnora said in grand jury testimony read in court Thursday.

It was the last thing I wanted to do.

Isnora and detective Michael Oliver were charged with manslaughter in the November 2006 death of bridegroom-to-be Sean Bell as he left a bachelor party at a Queens strip club.

A third detective, Marc Cooper, faces the lesser charge of reckless endangerment.

The death of Bell in a hail of bullets hours before his wedding and the wounding of two of his friends sparked community outrage and raised questions about police use of deadly force. Bell was black, as are the other victims, while the officers involved are Hispanic, black and white.

A judge is hearing the men’s trial without a jury. Prosecutors have portrayed the detectives as trigger-happy and poorly supervised. The defense contends the officers were convinced they were in danger.

Some witnesses have testified they never heard the officers identify themselves as police.

But Isnora told the grand jury he put his detective’s shield on his collar so the men in the car outside the club could see it and yelled police and commands to stop. He said he saw a passenger reach into his waistband and then start to raise his arm.

Isnora fired 11 shots. Oliver unleashed 31 shots, including the one that killed Bell, and Cooper fired four times. Two other officers also fired but have not been charged.

No gun was found in Bell’s car. A lawyer representing Bell’s parents called Isnora’s testimony a creation of his own imagination.

There was no threat, said the attorney, Neville Mitchell.

The trial is to continue Monday. Oliver and Isnora face up to 25 years in prison if convicted; Cooper faces up to one year on the lesser endangerment count.
Cop: Shooting was ‘last thing I wanted to do’ – found here.


March 21, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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