More madness surrounds the shooting of Sean Bell

In Civil Liberties, class warfare, New York City, Policing, Race, The War On Drugs on December 1, 2006 at 12:16 pm

The Daily News ran an article today describing the Police force’s apparent desperation in trying to find more excuses for the shooting incident that took place in Queens this weekend. Luckily for us, they are only making themselves look more foolish.

Black and targeted by NYPD
Raids terrorize friends of victims
in deadly Kalua Cabaret fusillade

Around 6 a.m. Wednesday, LaToya Smith, 26, was playing in her bed in southeastern Queens with her 7-month-old son Jalyn. Just then, she heard a strange noise in her family’s darkened house. Her locked bedroom door suddenly burst open, and several uniformed cops burst into the room with flashlights and guns drawn.

According to Smith, the cops ordered her to lie facedown on the floor.

“My baby, my baby. Where’s my baby?” she recalls pleading to them as they hustled her into the living room. There, they gathered her brothers Timothy Smith, 19, and Stanley Smith, 23; her mother, Laura; the baby and Christopher Keys, 18, a friend who was staying in the apartment. Meanwhile, a dozen officers searched the entire place.

Police officials said they found a loaded 9-mm. pistol in the apartment and a small bag of marijuana, whereupon they hauled the young woman and the three men to the 103rd Precinct stationhouse. They charged the men with gun possession, but released LaToya Smith.

Police also are saying the apartment was a known drug-dealing location.

But the real purpose of the raid was not to find guns or pot.

All the cops’ questions at the stationhouse were about last weekend’s police shooting of Sean Bell, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield outside the Kalua Cabaret, Smith said.

They kept asking if she knew the whereabouts of certain friends of the three men shooting victims.

“If you don’t tell us what we want to hear, you know, you can get five years,” she says one cop told her.

Thus, in a bizarre twist almost as inexplicable as the original 50-shot fusillade, the NYPD is raiding homes and picking up young blacks in southeastern Queens in an all-out effort to locate an alleged “fourth man,” a man investigators say was at the scene of the shooting and fled.

Then at 6 a.m. yesterday, cops raided a second apartment in the Smith building and arrested Erskine Willliams Jr. and Jameek Bentson.

Williams was hauled away for an unpaid $25 ticket from last year. But the real reason was his friendship with Benefield, whom he visited several times at the hospital this week. Williams said cops only wanted to know what he talked to Benefield about.

Erskine Williams Sr., his father, is furious. The father is the unofficial spokesman for the Benefield family. He is also a local minister and the uncle of Smith and her brothers.

“That’s a lie,” Williams Sr. said about the police drug allegations against the Smiths. “I live two doors down from there. I know what goes on there. The police will say anything.”

Black leaders who learned of the raids in recent days say police would never use such heavy-handed tactics in a white neighborhood.

“They can arrest every black person in Queens,” said Michael Hardy, one of the lawyers for the wounded men, “but none of those people were at the party or in the car with my clients.”

“The NYPD is involved in character assassination so they can justify last weekend’s shooting in the court of public opinion,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “They are trying to make the victims into suspects.”

But there is one big difference, Sharpton said, between last weekend’s shooting and the infamous killing of Amadou Diallo.

“With Diallo, we only had the testimony of the policemen in the foyer. This time, we have seven or eight people who witnessed this shooting.”

It was, after all, a bachelor party for Sean Bell that night. There were several friends of the dead man who left the club when it closed just before the shooting.

Sharpton and lawyers close to Bell’s family are now saying some of those witnesses have yet to come forward.

The facts of what happened outside the Kalua Cabaret are not yet fully known. But one thing is clear: The NYPD will not encourage any witnesses to come forward by breaking down doors in the black community.

Originally published on December 1, 2006

  1. This is not an issue of Civil Rights, but one of Human Rights The world is watching to see if the Big Apple is really rotten at the core. Will the life of one unarmed Black Man count for something. We will see as his body is weighed in the balances of justice.

    Sean Bell Shooting

  2. I want justice to prevail we need to see the right thing done for Sean one day someone is going to explain this to his kids and it would be a shame for us as blacks to let them live this same lie 15 to 20 years from now.We are not equal because white people think their above the law and people of color.NO JUSTICE NO PEACE

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