NEW YORK – Three police officers surrendered Monday to face charges in a shooting that killed an unarmed groom on his wedding day and stirred outrage around the city.

The officers were accused of firing nearly 50 shots at three young men in a car outside a nightclub, killing Sean Bell and seriously wounding two of his friends. Two other officers involved were not indicted.

The eight-count indictment charges detectives Michael Oliver, who fired 31 times, and Gerard Isnora, a decorated undercover officer who fired 11 shots, with first-degree and second-degree manslaughter, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Monday.

Those charges are classified as violent felonies with mandated jail time if the men are convicted. The maximum punishment for manslaughter is 25 years, Brown said.

Detective Marc Cooper, who fired four shots, faces a misdemeanor endangerment charge, Brown said. The indictment says he fired a bullet that passed “through a window of an occupied AirTrain station.”

Oliver also was charged with endangerment in connection with a bullet that went through the window of an occupied house.

Two other policemen were not charged.

“We are a long way from a conviction,” said defense attorney Philip Karasyk, who represents Isnora.

The case renewed allegations that the NYPD is trigger-happy, as well as accusations of racism. Bell was black, as are the other victims; three of the officers are black, and two are white.

“It falls short of what we want,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said at a news conference with the wounded men and Bell’s fiance. “Clearly, all five officers should be charged; all officers acted in concert.”

“This case, at its best, is a return to grief for all of those involved,” he said.

Monday morning, the three policemen surrendered to the NYPD’s Bureau of Internal Affairs, then were whisked to the Queens court complex. A phalanx of plainclothes law enforcers and family members surrounded them as they were rushed into the building for fingerprinting and processing before their arraignment later Monday.

Brown said he would oppose any attempts to get a change of venue for the trial.

“This is where public opinion is equally divided, in my opinion,” he said.

Grand jurors declined to indict on the more serious counts of second-degree murder, and attempted murder, or the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide.

Bell was killed Nov. 25 as he left his bachelor party.

Police have said the officers were involved in an undercover investigation at the nightclub when they overheard a conversation that convinced them the men were going to their car to retrieve a gun. They have said that Bell’s car hit the unmarked police vehicle and that the officers believed someone in Bell’s car was reaching for a gun when they opened fire. No gun was found.

By PAT MILTON, Associated Press Writers


I am sure that there are pro’s and con’s to this story…but 50 shots??? It seems to me that the only endangerment was from the police officers.

Bullets going thru other vehicles and citizens residential windows…I am sure that the other guys in the car, that lived thru this ordeal, are glad that they weren’t good shots!

With almost 50 shots it is amazing that someone else didn’t get hurt.

I know that if I had been out in public, shooting almost 50 times, that I would buried inside the juridical system…in a cell below the courthouse! With no bond! Yet it has taken 4 months for the officers to even be indited.

Please do not get me wrong…police are needed and theirs is a hard and sometimes thankless job.

But this was over kill! Excuse the pun!