The three police officers indicted in the shooting death of unarmed Queens resident Sean Bell will be headed to the Queen County courthouse today, and police presence will be increased. The lawyers for the three detectives, Michael Oliver, Gescard Isnora, and Marc Cooper, will be discussing issues such as change of venue, but a number of threats against the trio, including what WABC 7 describes as a "high ranking gang member" threatening to "have an associate shoot Oliver here at the courthouse during one of the hearings in retaliation for Sean Bell's death," has prompted further security.
The shooting and its aftermath has created community tensions as well as the possibility of heated protests (before the officers were indicted, the city was on alert for protests). And when the indicted officers were allowed to enter the courthouse by a side entrance, some people complained the cops were getting special treatment. The police detectives' union Michael Palladino told WABC, "You know what's also unfair treatment is that detectives and police officers in this city putting their lives on the line every single day acting in good faith and within the law can be charged. I've never seen that done before. That's unfair."
Bell was killed day before his wedding last November, while he and his friends were leaving a strip club in Queens. Police and witness accounts differ about the events (whether undercover police identified themselves, whether Bell drove into them), but what is known is that 50 shots were fired at Bell and two friends. And on Saturday, Bell's friends and family marched in Queens. Bell's mother Valerie told Newsday, ""He knew I took care of him. He knows I'm taking care of his children." Regarding the case, she said, "You do the crime, you do the time. No matter who you are."