Sean Bell's wounded friend testifies

April 1, 2008 5:55:17 AM PDT
A friend of Sean Bell's who was injured in the shooting that killed the unarmed bridegroom says he never heard a warning before NYPD detectives opened fire.Trent Benefield, who has a rod in his leg where the bones were shattered, testified at the Queens trial of three policemen involved in the 50-shot killing on November 25, 2006 - the day Bell was to be married.

Benefield, who is 24, says he didn't see who was shooting because he had his eyes covered.

Benefield and Joseph Guzman, who also survived serious injuries, have insisted in interviews and through their lawyers that the officers recklessly shot up the 23-year-old Bell's car without cause or warning.

"I saw a man come up to the front passenger side winshield, he had a gun pointed at S (Sean Bell) I covered my face up. I felt myself get shot," said Benefield.

He described getting hit three times: A slug to each leg and another bullet to his thigh as he fled the car.

Benefield said he didn't know police had fired the shots, because he had covered his face and head with his arms. He said he didn't find out until he was in the hospital.

During cross-examination, Benefield contradicted himself about the type of alcoholic drinks he had that night. He was also questioned about hospital records in which he disclosed smoking marijuana daily for the last six years.

Next, the defense moved on to statements they say Benefield made to police about a dispute with a man in a black SUV prior to the shooting. The importance of this: They say the driver of the SUV is the man they say was behaving as if he had a gun that night.

Joseph Guzman takes the stand at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, and then the defense is expected to present its case.