17 years ago on November 25th, 2006
Sean Bell is shot and killed by police in a controversial shooting that raised protests over how police handled the encounter and whether anyone in Bell's bachelor party was actually armed
Upon leaving the bachelor party at a strip club, undercover police testified that they heard one of Bell's friends say he was going to get a gun, so police, who were outside the club investigating possible prostitution at the location, drew their guns and fired on the group, killing Bell and severely injuring two others. The NYPD response hinged on whether a gun was mentioned or displayed, with witnesses saying no one in the bachelor party mentioned a gun and none being found at the scene. Mayor Bloomberg called the shooting unacceptable and said it looked like a case of excessive force, with five officers firing a total of 50 shots, hitting Bell four times, Trent Benefield three times, and Joseph Guzman 19 times.
Protests took place comparing Bell's death to similar police shootings of unarmed men and protesters called for the officers to be held accountable. Three of the five officers involved in the shooting were indicted and went before a judge in a bench trial where all charges were dropped on April 25, 2008. Despite their acquittal, all officers and their commanding officer were fired or forced to resign by 2012.
Liverpool Street from 94th to 101st Ave in Jamaica, Queens was named in honor of Sean Bell on what would have been his 27th birthday.