More protests to come in Sean Bell case

April 29, 2008 6:39:18 AM PDT
Governor Paterson is among those surprised by the acquittals in the police shooting of Sean Bell. However, Mr. Paterson says even those who disagree with the verdict should respect it. Reverend Al Sharpton is making it clear -- he won't be doing that. Eyewitness News reporter Lisa Colagrossi has more on the story.

The Rev. Al Sharpton says the people protesting the Sean Bell shooting have been peaceful from day one and that "non-violent" approach will continue. Meantime, there are more calls for the feds to get involved.

"Nobody's going to shut down the city," Mayor Bloomberg said in news conference on Monday.

Maybe not, but the Rev. Al Sharpton is recruiting. He meets tonight with union leaders -- first with local representatives of 1199 in Midtown, later with union groups in Queens.

Yesterday Sharpton brought together Sean Bell's family and two of the most powerful African American politicians in Congress: Chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Congressman John Conyers of Michigan and Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Charles Rangel. The group focused on the justice department and Bell's death as a civil rights case.

The three detectives were acquitted last Friday on all charges after Justice Arthur Cooperman ruled the prosecution failed to prove its case, that, in other words, all 50 shots were justified.

The controversial verdict shocked the city, leaving New Yorkers divided between those who demanded criminal convictions and a less vocal contingent who supported the judge's decision to acquit the detectives. "It's gonna remove this state of this injustice that's been committed with one of our citizens," Congressman Charles Rangel, (D) New York said.

After the 30-minute meeting the group headed to the scene of the shooting Monday evening. In the afternoon rain, Conyers stood outside the Kalua Cabaret before walking over to where the shots were fired.

"This is an important moment in the history of the criminal justice system in America," Conyers, a Democrat and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told reporters.

Still many say there is little chance any of the three officers will be indicted on federal charges.

"The standard is going to be very difficult for the justice department to put together a case that's going to be able to stand up, even in an indictment. The second problem that we're dealing with a Bush justice department," former prosectuor Adam Perlmutter told Eyewitness News on Monday.

Rep. Conyers says he has been to New York before for similar police shootings -- and such tragedies have to stop.

"If we're supporting democracy and justice around the world, we sure can have it in New York," Congressman Conyers said.

Detectives Michael Oliver, Gescard Isnora and Marc Cooper all remain on desk duty, as well as the three other officers who were not indicted in the 50 shot police shooting that took Sean Bell's life.

Meanwhile, New York Governor David Paterson says he's somewhat surprised by the acquittal of the officers.

Paterson says the verdict surprised him because of the number of shots fired at Bell and his two friends.

The governor says he understands why some are upset, but says the judge's verdict must be accepted.

"It is the way our criminal justice system works," he said.

Paterson encouraged people who are dissatisfied with the outcome of the trial to wait for investigations by the New York Police Department and federal authorities to be completed. "There may still be some redress in that case," he said.