“I Didn’t Want To Die”: Detective Michael Oliver’s Grand Jury Testimony


The Sean Bell trial continues, and yesterday the grand jury testimony of Detective Michael Oliver was read. Oliver fired 31 shots the night Bell died, including the one that killed him then night before his wedding. Both tabloids today dedicate more than a page to the trial, with the Post going all out and placing the trial on almost all of page one, save for a strip headline about the new Yankee Stadium. The Daily News also puts Oliver’s testimony on the front, but an interview with A-Rod takes up more real estate and David Paterson’s latest admission (seriously, are we done with governor scandals yet?) appears above the generic “MY STORY” hed.

Both papers use the same format they’ve used for any time the trial has a “big day”: lengthy story detailing the developments and sidebars with highlights from the testimony and the day in court. One thing that’s funny is how different and yet how alike both papers play the story. The “Quote of the Day” in the Post is:

I didn’t want to die. I continued firing.

In the Daily News, the “Best Quote” is:

“I didn’t want to die. I reloaded the gun and continued to fire.”

I found these two quotes fascinating because they say the same thing, and yet are different. Since I haven’t seen the grand jury testimony, I can’t say whether one is the “correct” quote. It could be a case of choosing different “I didn’t want to die.” It’s just an interesting little dichotomy if you read both papers. The similarities don’t end there. Both chose “I DIDN’T WANT TO DIE” as their truck head on the inside.

The other highlight is Jane Rosenberg’s courtroom sketch in the Daily News, which includes a rendering “And I yelled ‘Police! Don’t move…'” on the paper of someone reading the grand jury testimony. Talk about attention to detail!