After more than a 5 year investigation the undercover police officer who fired the first shot in a 50-shot barrage that killed an unarmed New York City man as he left his own bachelor party has been fired, according to Yahoo News. Additionally, 3 other officers involved in the shooting will reportedly resign.
NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly made the tough decision to get rid of the 4 officers on Friday.
This comes 4 months after an NYPD administrative trial judge found that the undercover detective, Gescard Isnora, acted inappropriately when he fired the shots that killed Sean Bell in 2006.
An NYPD spokesmen stated that "there was nothing in the record to warrant overturning the decision."
Back in 2008 the 4 officers, which included Isnora and fellow detectives Marc Cooper, Michael Oliver, and Lt. Gary Napoli, were criminally charged and tried following the shooting outside a Queens nightclub. Yet, they were acquitted on all counts.
The shooting initially drew national exposure because the victim was black and brought up racial issues. However, the ultimate issue that the investigation sought to answer was whether the 4 cops used excessive deadly force.
On the night of Bell's death he and his friends were stopped by the detectives on the way to their car after they engaged in a verbal altercation with another group of men. The detectives were monitoring the nightclub for drug activity.
Isnora, who believed that the group went to their car to retrieve a gun, then fired 11 shots into the car as the men began to drive away and crashed into a police van. The problem for Isnora, however, was that no one in the group was armed.
Bell was killed and 2 of his friends were seriously injured. Cooper and Oliver also fired shots. Another detective who fired his gun, Paul Headley, has already resigned.
As a result of Isnora's discharge he will lose both his pension and his health benefits provided by the NYPD.
Isnora's lawyer, Philip Karasyk, reflected his displeasure with the decision telling The New York Times that it was "extremely disheartening and callous and sends an uncaring message to the hard-working officers of the New York Police Department who put their lives on the line every day."
Mike Palladino, president of the Detectives' Endowment Association, stated that the union and its lawyers were in the reviewing the ruling and searching for legal recourse.
"The decision is demoralizing and it's unsettling for all members of the NYPD," Palladino said. "The message is that you could be in a life-or-death situation, act within the law, be justified by the courts and still lose everything — your livelihood as well as your retirement."
Palladino believes that penalties imposed by an NYPD administrative court should not have been issued because the detectives were acquitted on all criminal charges.
But, the administrative ruling indicates that a criminal acquittal does not bar an administrative judiciary from terminating a police officer for improper actions in the line of duty.
I realize that these detectives have an extremely difficult job and spur of the moment life or death decisions are not easy ones to make. Unfortunately in this case an unarmed man died and in the end the administrative judge felt that someone had to take the fall.
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