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Sean Bell trial; Gas prices on the rise...

Behind The News
April 24, 2008 12:56:27 PM PDT
So what's at stake in the Sean Bell trial, where a verdict is expected by the judge tomorrow morning? Ask anyone from either side - the cops on trial, or the family of Mr. Bell, who was killed in a hail of 50 police bullets in November, 2006 - and they'll say, "a lot."Ask the public, and I'm not sure the verdict looms as large.

But maybe it should.

Are the cops guilty of manslaughter? Or did their shooting of Bell and two of his friends outside a strip club in Queens follow police procedure, and was it justified?

We will find out tomorrow, when the judge renders his decision. For some, the subtext to the case is, as many black activists have pointed out: If Bell and his friends had been white, would the police have acted any differently?

I don't have the answer, but I do understand the basis for the question. And that's the debate that needs to be had. Are blacks treated any differently by police than whites are? And the color of the police officer's skin isn't the issue.

The color of the suspect's is. After all, the cops charged in this case are white, black, and Hispanic. At a time when race is such a major issue in American politics, race in law enforcement remains an issue under scrutiny as well. And we as a society should not shy away from it.

Having said that, most people believe that, no matter what the verdict tomorrow in the Bell trial, it is discussion that will prevail. And we should expect nothing less. And if that discussion helps improve police procedure, then all the better.

We'll have a preview of the trial -- and a vigil planned by the family of Bell -- tonight at 11.

Also at 11, there's been much to-do made about how stations on the New Jersey Turnpike change their gas prices once a week, and it just happens to be on Fridays, which is tomorrow. I'm no Harvard MBA, but I'm not sure how this practice falls within the concept of free enterprise, or within the anti-trust laws. But that's another discussion.

Tomorrow, the price of gas on the Turnpike is expected to jump at least 22 cents a gallon, so we're expecting lots of people to try to gas up tonight.

It happens to coincide with a story Eyewitness News reporter Tim Fleischer has been working on: myths about saving gas. It turns out that some of the things a lot of us do to try to save gasoline - don't, in reality, save gas. You'll be fascinated by Tim's story tonight.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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