An Advocate for Sean Bell’s Family Tries To Get the Word Out


The daily routines of life have to continue even for Calvin Hunt, who usually sits through every minute of the Sean Bell murder trial. Frustrated and on the verge of issuing his own regular wrap-ups at the daily post-testimony press gaggles, Hunt began publicly identifying himself as the head of the Sean Bell Justice Committee and issuing “Bell Reports” to any cameras that would veer in his direction. But Hunt called a time-out one day last week: He had to leave early to take his daughter to the doctor.

The Voice caught up with the 45-year-old Hunt as he was crossing Queens Boulevard and asked him why he was so involved in the trial of the three NYPD detectives for the November 2006 shooting death of the unarmed Sean Bell, who died in a hail of bullets just hours before his wedding. Hunt put his index and middle fingers together and said: “I’m like this with the Bell family.”

And the family’s side, he said, seems to be losing the war of words at these daily pressers. “The detective-union guy [Mike Palladino]—he’s got a lot of balls,” said Hunt. “No one on our side’s got the balls.” A speech by the NAACP’s Leroy Gadsden, he said, “made me sick in my stomach.” Hunt called it typical “watered-down politician shit.” Hunt noted that the detectives’ defense team has made a big deal of the fact that some of the prosecution witnesses have criminal records. It frustrated Hunt that the Bells’ side hadn’t countered that point.

“Everybody from my neighborhood’s got a record—I mean, I got a past,” Hunt said. Most young men in the neighborhoods where he and Bell grew up, Hunt said, either “got a record or are dead.”

He was also frustrated by the defense lawyers’ repeated attempts to show that Bell was drunk and out of control the morning he was killed. Hunt conceded that Bell most likely was drunk—after all, it was his bachelor party.

“I know the night of my bachelor party,” he said, “I did everything—’Hey, let me get some of that,’ ” he added, imitating a dope smoker. “Because you know tomorrow, once you’re married, there’s no more doing anything.”

More to the point, Hunt said: “All they’re talking about is Sean’s alcohol level. What about the cops’ alcohol level? No one tested them. They were drinking that night, too.”