Quotes in reaction to Sean Bell trial verdict

April 25, 2008 10:55:54 AM PDT
Here are quotes from key figures, who reacted to the not guilty verdicts against three NYPD officers in the Sean Bell shooting trial.New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg: "There are no winners in a trial like this. An innocent man lost his life, a bride lost her groom, two daughters lost their father, and a mother and a father lost their son. No verdict could ever end the grief that those who knew and loved Sean Bell suffer. Judge Cooperman's responsibility, however, was to decide the case based on the evidence presented in the courtroom. America is a nation of laws, and though not everyone will agree with the verdicts and opinions issued by the courts, we accept their authority." - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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The Reverend Jesse Jackson, speaking from Chicago: "An ugly pattern is emerging in New York. This was a massacre, this was not a shootout. And the U.S. attorney general must give America the assurance that we all have equal protection under the law. This is a travesty of justice today, but it is a pattern that deserves attention."

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Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly: "Obviously, there are some people who are disappointed with the verdict. ... We don't anticipate violence, but we are prepared for any contingency."

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Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Patrick J. Lynch: "Today we're grateful that this court ruled on the evidence presented in this case. But with this case, there's no winners, there's no losers. We still have a death that occurred. We still have police officers that have to live with the fact that there was a death involved in their case. ... It's a tragedy for all police officers who have to live with the difficult job we do but nevertheless we're grateful for this outcome."

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Bronx Democrat Sen. Ruben Diaz: "The court's rationale for exonerating these defendants was to give them the benefit of perceived threats that made their overreaction "justifiable". As a community, we cannot permit police officers to be granted immunity from responsibility for killing members of our community. Nevertheless, as a community, we must not give into the temptation to overreact, but instead to give voice to our anger by peacefully demanding reforms and reviews that will prevent this tragedy from ever happening again."

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Queens District Attorney Richard Brown: "Judge Cooperman is one of this county's most experienced and respected judges. He had before him as thorough and complete a presentation of all available evidence as I have ever seen. In all, some 60 individuals testified over a 28 day period -- and more than 900 exhibits were introduced into evidence. The trial transcript alone runs close to 5400 pages. Both sides had their day in court. Judge Cooperman discharged his responsibilities fairly and conscientiously under the law. I accept his verdict -- and I urge that all fair-minded people do the same. ... The public debate that has been ignited by that which occurred has raised important issues about current law enforcement practices and police-community relations-- issues that require careful examination. The Police Department has already taken some important steps in that direction.... But it is clear that more needs to be done. I have spoken with the Commissioner Kelly and have offered to share with him all that we learned during our investigation and our prosecution of this case. I have told him that he will have our full cooperation as he - - and the Department - - move forward in their effort to make certain that this never again happens. We - - all of us working together - - must do everything within our power to make certain that that which occurred on Liverpool Street in South Jamaica seventeen months ago today, is never again repeated.

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City Council Member Leroy Comrie: "Foremost, I want to say that my thoughts and prayers are with the Bell family. Since this tragedy first occurred, I have had the opportunity to come to know Sean's family, especially his parents, William and Valerie Bell. Through the prayer vigils and peaceful marches in Southeast Queens, I've come to admire this family which has shown so much grace and dignity in the face of enormous pressure and grief. Through their actions, they have truly taught each of us a lesson about our own humanity. Our community must continue to support this family and support their efforts to keep Sean's memory alive. Let us remember that this story began with a young man intent on marrying the love of his life and mother of his children. It is that example most of all that we should celebrate. "Today's verdict should be bitterly disappointing to every New Yorker of goodwill. Justice Arthur Cooperman's decision clearly points the finger at the lackluster case presented by the Queens' District Attorney's office and it is also an indictment of New York City Police Department procedure, with respect to training and management. "In the aftermath of this verdict, our City must endeavor to do better. We must insure that law enforcement training and management procedures are consistently reviewed and enforced. We must to a better job of improving police-community relations and address the mentality of confrontation and criminalization that exists among some of our police officers. We must do a better job of recruiting the best, educated law enforcement talent and that will require better salaries. It is an unequivocal truth that there are fundamental problems in our police department in which there are sub-cultures that foster disrespect and contempt for the people that these officers are pledged to protect and serve. A cowboy mentality that often gets buried under the belief that says crime is down.

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