Did flying glass mislead NYPD officers?

Analyst back on the stand in Sean Bell trial
April 8, 2008 4:36:28 PM PDT
A spray of car-window glass might have made it appear that someone was shooting back when police officers fired a 50-bullet barrage that killed an unarmed driver, a private crime scene analyst testified.In simulations, shards of a passenger window flew both into and away from a car when a bullet pierced the glass, expert Alexander Jason testified Monday at the trial of three detectives charged in the fatal shooting of Sean Bell.

"You'll have glass going in both directions," said Jason, who testified for the defense.

His testimony could bolster the detectives' argument that they believed they were in danger when they opened fire and kept shooting at Bell's car, killing him and seriously wounding two of his friends on Nov. 25, 2006 - Bell's wedding day. The shooting happened outside a Queens topless bar where Bell had his bachelor party and the undercover detectives were investigating allegations of prostitution.

Detectives Gescard Isnora and Michael Oliver have pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, and Marc Cooper has pleaded not guilty to reckless endangerment.

They maintain that the shooting was justified in part because they overheard one of Bell's friends threaten to get a gun after Bell had a run-in with another man outside the club. No gun was found, and Bell's friend denies he mentioned one.

Isnora told a grand jury he identified himself as a police officer - and was hit by Bell's car - before he began shooting.

The survivors contend the officers did not identify themselves. One, Trent Benefield, has testified that he was shot while running from Bell's car.

Jason said his analysis suggested Benefield was sitting in the car when he was wounded.