The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee was expected to return to New York Monday for a special hearing to see whether the detectives vindicated in the death of Sean Bell should be tried in federal court on civil rights violations, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) said.
U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), who heads the Judiciary Committee, will join Meeks and other members of Congress at the Manhattan session and hear from several individuals involved in the Nov. 25, 2006 shooting, the spokesman said. Those expected to appear at the hearing include Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman, who survived the 50-bullet shooting outside the Kaula Cabaret in Jamaica on Nov. 25, 2006.
Conyers had toured the club on April 28 with Bell's family and the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has repeatedly called on the federal government to take further action following the April 25 acquittal of Detectives Michael Oliver, Gescard Isnora and Marc Cooper on manslaughter and reckless endangerment charges in Queens Supreme Court.
Michael Palladino, the president of the Detectives Endowment Association, met with Conyers in Washington Wednesday to persuade him to ask the federal government not to push the civil rights case. The detectives and two partners who were not criminally charged, opened fire at Bell and his friends because they mistakenly believed Guzman had a gun.
Bell was killed hours before he was going to marry his high school sweetheart, Nicole Paultre-Bell.
Bell's fiance, Benefield and Guzman also filed a civil negligence lawsuit against the three detectives and two other officers who fired shots but were not charged. They are seeking $50 million in damages.
©2008 Community News Group
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