One of the officers who fired some of the 50 shots at Sean Bell and his friends is claiming in new court documents that the Far Rockaway bridegroom seriously injured him during the confrontation outside a defunct Jamaica nightclub.
In a counterclaim filed in Brooklyn federal court June 18 in the wrongful death suit against him and four of his NYPD comrades, Officer Michael Carey contends he has had to deal with serious injuries after Bell, 23, rammed his sedan into the unmarked police van he was riding in during the shooting Nov. 25, 2006, according to his attorney.
Richard Signorelli said Carey, who was not indicted on criminal charges in Bell’s death, is still getting treatment for a meniscus in one of his knees.
“Officer Carey acted properly and reasonably at all times. Did absolutely nothing wrong in the incident and suffered significant and permanent injury,” his lawyer said.
Signorelli said Bell, who died hours before he was going to walk down the aisle, placed the officers in danger due to the state he was in before he got behind the wheel. Not only did the medical examiner find the Far Rockaway resident had a blood alcohol level of .16, twice the legal limit, the office also said that even if he was sober he was not fit to be driving, the attorney said.
“The medical examiner determined that Mr. Bell also required the use of corrected lenses when he was driving, but he was not wearing glasses when the incident took place,” Signorelli said.
Bell’s fiancée, Nicole Paultre-Bell, and his two friends who were wounded in the shooting, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, are awaiting a July 26 settlement conference in the wrongful death suit. Their attorneys, Sanford Rubenstein and Michael Hardy, said the counterclaim would not hold up the settlement since it was filed after the one-year statute of limitations stemming from the incident and the creation of Bell’s estate.
“We intend to request that this counterclaim is withdrawn,” Rubenstein said Monday
Bell, Guzman and Benefield were celebrating at Bell’s bachelor party at the Kalua Cabaret in Jamaica, which at the time was being investigated by undercover police for suspected prostitution and drug operations. Bell got into an argument outside the club and one of the officers said he heard someone say they were going to get a gun.
When an unmarked police van approached Bell in his car at the corner of the club, the bridegroom rammed the police vehicle, prompting five officers to fire 50 shots, which killed Bell and injured the other two.
No weapon was ever found.
Detective Michael Oliver fired 31 shots, Detective Gescard Isnora fired 11 shots, Detective Marc Cooper fired four, Carey shot three times and Detective Paul Headley fired only once. Oliver, Isnora and Cooper were indicted on manslaughter and reckless endangerment charges but the three were exonerated in a bench trial in 2008.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@c
©2010 Community News Group
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