Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Did NYC cops lie about the 'fourth man'?
... in the Sean Bell shooting, the so-called "fourth suspect" who supposedly ran from the scene before or after the 50 shot barrage that killed the groom on his wedding day and wounded to other men, emerged as a late detail that supposedly justified the actions of the plain-clothes cops. But that brings up a logical question, which is asked by a New York Daily News columnist: if there was a fourth man, why was there no police to look for him on the night of the shooting?
In all the frantic police radio calls made in the first few hours after Sean Bell was killed, one thing was noticeably missing: There was not a single report of a fourth man fleeing the scene.
No warning that someone might be armed, dangerous and on the loose.

No dragnet for the elusive "fourth man."

"There was no 'escaped perp' alert radioed by the cops involved and no Level 1 mobilization by NYPD afterward to find a man with a gun," a law enforcement source who reviewed the radio transmissions told the Daily News.

The source's statement directly contradicts initial reports that police conducted a search in the neighborhood for a fourth man after the shooting.
More details from the night of the shooting, courtesy of NYDN:
Videotapes obtained by cops from two surveillance cameras at the Port Authority's Jamaica Ave. AirTrain station a half block away from the shooting site reveal that one of the bullets fired by the five cops narrowly missed striking a civilian and two Port Authority patrolmen who were standing on the station's elevated platform.

None of the members of the surveillance team that was backing up the undercover cops in the Kalua Cabaret that night was wearing an NYPD raid jacket, and none of the three cars used by the nine-member team was equipped with a portable police light that could alert civilians they were police.

Because of a communication foulup, a female detective and a female investigator who were part of the backup team and parked on 95th Ave. - a block from the shooting - had no idea the other members of the team had moved in to make an arrest. After the shots erupted, the two female cops received a cell phone call from another team member that the shots involved their team.
The female team members radioed a "10-13" [assist officer] call on their police radio, but they could not tell dispatchers their exact street location. They then raced to Liverpool St. by such a roundabout route that Internal Affairs investigators have dubbed theirs the "useless" car.

The firing of so many shots at Bell and his companions - all of them unarmed - immediately sparked a firestorm of questions. Black and Latino leaders were enraged by the dragnet that has swept southeast Queens ever since police investigators focused on an alleged fourth man.

Top NYPD officials have repeatedly said such a mystery man was seen getting into or out of Bell's car near the Kalua Cabaret and may have been armed. They say witnesses saw the man run from the scene after the shooting started.

In the week after the tragic incident, Queens cops conducted raids and arrests of several of Bell's friends, all on unrelated charges. They also detained for questioning several men who attended the bachelor party for Bell that night at the club. In each case, police grilled the men about Bell and the alleged fourth man.

If there was a fourth man with a gun, it would certainly bolster the claims of the five cops that they were justified in firing so many shots.

Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman, the wounded friends of Bell that survived, told investigators from the district attorney's office last week that there was no fourth man in or near their car.

Charlie King, an attorney for five civilian witnesses to the shooting, two of whom were picked up by police, called the police dragnet an attempt to intimidate his witnesses, all of whom had already agreed to talk to prosecutors.

I think it's safe to say that something is very, very fishy here.

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Tags: NYPD, , police shooting,

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