Sean Bell's friend takes stand

James Kollore was at the party that fateful night
March 20, 2008 4:19:51 PM PDT
A friend of Sean Bell, who was at the strip club the night of the shooting, took the stand Thursday in the trial of the three detectives charged in the groom-to-be's death. James Kollore testified for the prosecution, but did his testimony help the government's case?

Eyewitness News reporter NJ Burkett has the latest from the courthouse in Kew Gardens.

Kollore could have been a devastating witness for the prosecution. He attended Bell's bachelor party at the Kalua Cabaret and witnessed the gunfire that followed.

Kollore testified that he clearly saw a Caucasian man fire shots into Sean Bell's car, and that the man had emerged from the passenger side of a minivan seconds after it collided with Bell's car.

Prosecutor: "Did he have a shield out?" Kollore: "I did not see a shield."

He seemed to be describing Detective Michael Oliver, except that Oliver was driving the minivan. It is a fact that the defense will use to call Kollore's entire testimony into question. That, and his vision.

Defense attorney Anthony Ricco: "You weren't wearing your glasses, were you?" Kollore: "I don't wear glasses." Ricco: "But you need glasses." Kollore: "I need glasses. But I don't wear glasses."

He also admitted that he never called 911 from his cell phone, an assumption, perhaps, that the gunmen were plain-clothed detectives. Kollore said he never head the men identify themselves as police officers.

Critics say that is what really matters.

"The majority of his testimony is consistent with everyone else's testimony," Bell family attorney Michael Hardy said. "Most importantly, no badges, no commands."

And there's no question about that. Whether the officers identified themselves is a crucial element to the case.