NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For the first time, one of the detectives in the Sean Bell case publicly told his side of the story.
Detective Gescard Isnora calmly testified at a Police Department trial Wednesday afternoon that he didn’t intend to arrest anyone the night that Bell was killed in November of 2006.
1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria With More On Isnora’s Testimony
Isnora’s supervisors have determined that he violated department guidelines and that the shooting was unjustified.
Isnora, who was working undercover that night, said he heard Bell’s friend, Joseph Guzman, yell ‘get my gun, get my gun’ and heard Bell respond “let’s mess them up.”
The detective testified he saw the two men get into a car and it moved forward. With Guzman in the passenger seat and Bell driving, Isnora said he was ordered to follow the men and said he saw Guzman’s arm go up before he fired into the car.
WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell With More Details
Isnora said before shooting, he had his shield down and yelled loudly and emphatically “police, don’t move,” but said the car went forward and hit him in the leg. Isnora ended up firing 11 shots.
When asked if he saw Guzman with a gun, the detective said “I wasn’t going to wait to see a gun, by then, it would be too late.”
Bell’s fiancee, Nicole Paultre-Bell, was convinced by Isnora’s testimony.
“I was thinking that Sean was probably afraid, seeing a man in front of him with a gun. So he tried to get home to his family,” she told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.
In 2006, Bell died in a barrage of 50 bullets, on what was to be his wedding day, outside of Club Kalua following his bachelor party in Queens.
No weapon was recovered.
In 2008, Isnora, along with two other officers, was acquitted of criminal charges that included manslaughter.
Officer Michael Carey, who fired his weapon three times and was never charged with criminality, is also expected to testify. The Rev. Al Sharpton said he believes that Isnora and Carey should be fired.
The Department’s firearms experts have already looked at what happened that night, and they’ve determined Isnora did not face an imminent threat, and endangered others when he opened fire.
However, the detective’s union told CBS 2’s Aiello Isnora acted to protect himself and others.
“They take on these dangerous undercover roles, they put themselves in peril, and they act in good faith,” said Michael Palladino of the Detectives’ Endowment Association.
Isnora told the hearing officer, “Me firing my weapon, that’s the last thing I wanted to do.”
The departmental trial judge will make a recommendation and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly will make the final decision.
Last year, the city paid a $7.2 million settlement in the Bell case. It was the city’s largest settlement ever in a fatal police shooting.
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