NEW YORK - Seven police officers were hit with disciplinary charges yesterday in the 50-shot slaying of an unarmed groom-to-be on his wedding day - a case that sparked protests and raised questions about police firepower.
If found guilty at an internal trial, the officers - including three shooters acquitted last month at a criminal trial and their supervisor - could be fired. A union official said yesterday that they would fight the allegations.
The New York Police Department could take "further administrative steps" once the U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn completes a review of the case, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. Federal prosecutors have declined to discuss possible civil rights charges.
Sean Bell, 23, died in a hail of 50 bullets Nov. 25, 2006, near a Queens topless bar where he had just had a bachelor party and where undercover police were investigating complaints of prostitution. Two of his friends were seriously wounded.
At a two-month trial, detectives Gescard Isnora, Michael Oliver and Marc Cooper said they opened fire on Bell's car because they believed he and his friends were armed, and because the men had defied orders to halt and tried to drive away. No weapon was recovered.
Last month, the three detectives were cleared of manslaughter and other charges.
The department last year served Isnora, Oliver and Cooper with administrative charges. Additional counts were filed yesterday against them and against one other shooter not charged in the criminal case. The department also accused a lieutenant of failing to properly plan the undercover operation, and two more detectives of failing to properly process the crime scene.