Four years after a shooting left an unarmed Sean Bell dead (on the eve of his wedding) and two of his friends wounded following a tragic incident with New York City police, the city has agreed to pay $7 million dollars to settle a federal lawsuit filed by Bell’s family and his friends.
According to The New York Times, in the early hours of November 25, 2006, five New York City police officers fired 50 shots into the car Bell — who was to be married that day — was driving outside a club in Queens, New York. The car reportedly struck a detective in the leg and hit a police van before the officers began firing. None of the three men in the car — Bell and his friends Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield — were armed, although the officers apparently believed at least one was.
In what’s seen as the closing chapter in one of the most controversial police shootings in New York City history — three officers were acquitted of manslaughter and reckless-endangerment charges in 2008, a ruling many activists and rappers spoke out against — the families of the victims are looking to move past the tragedy.
As part of the settlement, Bell’s two young daughters (whom he had with his fiancée, Nicole Paultre Bell) will receive $3.25 million; Guzman (who was shot 17 times) and Trent Benefield will receive $3 million and $900,000 respectively, according to Times.
Earlier this week, Foxy Brown — a close friend of Bell’s fiancée — said Paultre Bell is a strong woman who remained in high spirits throughout the four-year ordeal.
“She just handled everything so gracefully,” Brown said. “She just did everything with grace and class.”
G-Unit member Tony Yayo, whose G-Unity foundation gave proceeds from a recent event to Bell’s family, said the settlement is long overdue.
“I think it’s a beautiful thing, but rest in peace to Sean Bell,” Yayo said. “I mean, you have times now when a police officer can shoot you in your back, handcuffed on the floor, in a train station in front of everybody and get two years,” Yayo said, referring to the Oscar Grant shooting
in Oakland, California, in which found a transit officer was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter last month. “So Sean Bell’s people deserve that money, definitely, and blessings to them.”