Another Sean Bell? Excessive Force Questions in Harlem Shooting

Cops fire 46 of 50 bullets

By Katy Tur
|  Friday, Aug 13, 2010  |  Updated 7:15 AM EDT
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A deadly shoot-out on the streets of Harlem is raising new questions about police conduct. John Noel reports.

A deadly shoot-out on the streets of Harlem is raising new questions about police conduct. John Noel reports.

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Nearly a week after a police-involved shooting left one man dead and another with more than 21 gunshot wounds, one neighborhood is calling for a complete investigation into whether or not the police, specifically the 32nd Precinct, abused its power by exceeding NYPD guidelines to only use the minimum amount of necessary force.

Speaking out against what they believe to be a pattern of abusive practices, Harlem leaders and community members gathered to denounce the barrage of bullets that tore through an early morning block party last Sunday.

Former NYPD detective, Graham Weatherspoon, now of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance, believes, “black people are not perceiving anything, they are being racially profiled.”

Cedrick Simmons, was one of the two bystanders hit by the cascade of gunfire. Hit three times in the leg and once in the arm, he’s walking - more like hobbling - with crutches, and can’t sit down without keeping his legs completely straight. His lawyer Jeffrey Emdin says firing 46 times into a crowd of people is "not only excessive, it’s almost criminal."

This most recent melee makes many wonder how much has changed since the infamous Sean Bell case, where three men where shot at a total of 50 times. In the latest case, where the cops fired 46 of the total 50 shots, the community argues the 32nd precinct is out of control.

Aisha Sekou, of Street Corner Resources, believes the shooting was not only excessive, but also abusive and “it put the community in jeopardy."

The other bystander, Larry Garlick, who took a bullet in the leg, announced that he’s suing the city and the NYPD for $20 million. He alleges the officers involved weren’t properly trained against contagious or reflexive shooting. The NYPD says they enhanced such training after the Sean Bell case.

On Sunday, a total five people were shot and wounded, including two officers. Louis Soto, who was initially fighting over a gun with Angel Alvarez, was killed. Alvarez was shot 21 times and is recovering in a Harlem hospital.

All the officers involved in the Sunday incident have been put on desk duty. Once the Manhattan DA completes his grand jury review, the NYPD’s review board will interview each officer and determine whether or not they used more than minimum necessary force. 

While the city settled with the victims of the Sean Bell shooting for more than $7 million, the officers in that case charged with excessive force were cleared of any wrong doing.

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