Feds: No Civil Rights Case in Bell Shooting

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The three police officers acquitted of criminal charges in the 2006 shooting of an unarmed black man will not face federal civil rights charges.

The U.S. Justice Department says there's not enough evidence to show the officers acted willfully in the death of Sean Bell.

Sanford Rubenstein, a lawyer for the Bell family, says their hopes are now pinned on a civil court case:

"More importantly, there will be a jury in the civil case. There was no jury in the criminal case," he says.

Now that the Justice Department has decided against prosecuting the officers, the NYPD says its internal investigation into their actions will proceed.

The undercover agents fired at Bell and two of his companions fifty times. One of the officers thought Bell's friend was reaching for a gun, but no weapon was ever found.

The NYPD increased firearms training for officers after performing their own examination of the shooting.

In a statement released on behalf of Bell's family, the Reverend Al Sharpton says "we will not stop its pursuit of justice until every criminal and civil arena has been exhausted."

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