Nicole Paultre Bell
*The city of New York agreed Tuesday to pay more than $7 million to settle a wrongful death civil suit filed by the fiancée and friends of Sean Bell, the unarmed black groom gunned down by cops on his wedding day, reports the New York Daily News.
The settlement, approved by a Brooklyn federal magistrate, ends a four-year legal battle by would-be bride Nicole Paultre Bell and two men wounded in a 50-shot barrage that claimed her lover’s life.
Under the agreement, the city will pay $3.25 million to Sean Bell’s family estate, which is controlled by Paultre Bell. Bell’s friends Joseph Guzman, 35, who was shot 11 times in the incident, will receive $3 million and Trent Benefield, 27, who was shot three times, will be granted $900,000.
“I believe the settlement is fair,” said Paultre Bell, the mother of Bell’s two daughters, Jada, 7, and Jordyn, 4. “No amount of money can provide closure for losing Sean. I don’t think there will ever be closure.”
“What’s important is my fight doesn’t end now,” she said, vowing to continue to push state legislatures to pass a package of laws to reform the Civilian Complaint Review Board, require drug testing when cops fire their guns and ban arrest quotas.
Guzman and Benefield were in a car with Bell when undercover cops opened fire on them outside the Club Kalua strip club in Queens on Nov. 25, 2006, hours before Bell was to get married.
Detectives Michael Oliver, Marc Cooper and Gescard Isnora were all acquitted in a 2008 trial of manslaughter and reckless endangerment charges stemming from the Bell shooting. The cops say they fired on Bell’s lurching car after mistakenly believing someone inside had a gun and fearing that Bell was trying to run them down.
The U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn declined to prosecute the cops for civil rights violations. The NYPD still has yet to decide whether to discipline a total of five officers involved in the shooting.