The Impending Sean Bell Verdict


Tomorrow morning, Queens Supreme Court Justice Arthur Cooperman will render his verdict in the Sean Bell “50 Shots” trial. The NYPD has mobilized and will not allow any officers to have time off during the next four days in case of widespread protest regarding Cooperman’s decision. The Post frames the news as “Riot fears cancel all cop leave,” while Daily News columnist Errol Louis proclaims, “the smart money says the cops will get little more than a slow day in the sun and maybe a little overtime—no matter what the verdicts are.” Louis then quotes Councilman Leroy Comrie, who says that the riot fears are being stoked by the media.
Comrie may have a point: The Post story is all “doom and gloom,” mentioning the demonstrations in the wake of the 2000 Amadou Diallo verdict. Louis offers some praise for Rev. Al Sharpton, who has stayed away from the courthouse and called for peace. Louis writes the city “should also be grateful to a political movement that, like its leaders, has changed and grown wiser over the years” if peace remains. Of course, a headline on the opposite page of Louis’s column declares, “If cops get off, it’s Emmett Till again, sez Sharpton.”

The bigger story is the Daily News‘s exclusive interview with Sean Bell’s parents, who rip into Detective Michael Oliver, one of the officers who shot Bell.

William Bell excoriates Oliver for his perceived lack of remorse: “He’d come in with arrogance, like he just didn’t care. Like, ‘So what, I killed somebody, it don’t mean nothing,’ Like it’s a joke,” he told the paper. “He showed no remorse. None whatsoever.”

The picture painted of Oliver is that of an arrogant hothead. The News describes him as having a “wild streak” and as someone who “infuriated Bell’s parents—and even some of his own supporters—by noshing on a $4,200 meal at celebrity eatery Nello’s the day after the indictment.” A large picture of a slightly smirking Oliver accompanies the piece, and the front-page headline: “OLIVER, YOU’VE NO SHAME” gets the point across that this is not a popular guy in certain circles.

The Post goes with the “law-and-order” approach with its “riot fears” article and a small piece on how Bell’s fiancée, Nicole Paultre-Bell met with Mayor Bloomberg at City Hall today. Bloomberg told Bell he plans to “make things better” in the wake of the shooting. The News, meanwhile, concentrates on the victims’ side, showing the anguish of Bell’s parents and the perceived arrogance of the perpetrators.