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Witness says Bell’s pals never asked for gun

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Fabio Coicou took the stand in the criminal trial against three undercover officers who fired at Bell, Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman outside a Jamaica strip club on Nov. 25, 2006. Coicou admitted to Supreme Court Justice Arthur Cooperman that he and Bell got into a confrontation. Despite earlier testimony from Bell's friends and undercover officers at the scene, who claimed Coicou gestured in a way that looked like he had a gun in his vest pocket, the 30-year-old father of three said he was not looking for trouble."I kept my hands in my pockets because I wanted to keep the peace," he said.Undercover Detectives Gescard Isnora, Michael Oliver, Marc Cooper, Paul Headley and Mike Carey opened fire at Bell and his friends when Bell rammed his Nissan Altima into them after Isnora tried to approach the entourage for questioning at the corner of Liverpool Street and 94th Avenue, prosecutors say. The officers said they heard one of Bell's friends say they were going to get a gun, but no weapon was found.Bell, who planned to be married that morning, was killed, while Guzman and Benefield were wounded and arrested. Oliver, who fired 31 shots and reloaded, and Isnora, who fired 11 shots and first approached the car, were indicted on manslaughter charges. Cooper, who fired four shots, was charged with reckless endangerment. The other two detectives were not indicted.Coicou said he was waiting outside the Kalua Cabaret that night to pick up his girlfriend who worked as a dancer and he never heard any of Bell's friends talk about a gun. But defense attorneys questioned his truthfulness. Paul Martin, Cooper's lawyer, revealed that Coicou told the DA's office during testimony last January that he heard someone say: "I'm going to get my gat," which is slang for gun."Do you know what a gat means?" Martin asked."I don't know. Is it in the dictionary?" Coicou responded.The witness, who drove a modified black SUV that night, also told the DA's office last year that he was afraid Bell's crew was going to "get whatever to do whatever." When asked by Martin to clarify what "whatever" meant, Coicou gave a fresh response."I don't know, Girl Scouts cookies," he said.Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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