Sean Bell was a 23-year-old man who was fatally shot on November 25, 2006, just hours before his wedding. Sean was at a bar in Queens, New York with two of his friends for his bachelor party. The three friends were shot when New York Police Department’s (NYPD) undercover agents fired 50 rounds, leaving Sean dead and his two friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, severely injured. An autopsy showed that Sean had been struck four times in the neck and torso. Shockingly, Joseph who was shot 19 times survived along with Trent, who was in the back seat of the vehicle, and was shot three times.
The plainclothes officer claimed he heard one of the three friends, say “Yo get my gun.” That caused him to confront Sean, the driver of the car, and order him to stop. He then claimed that Sean accelerated the car, striking him and colliding with an unmarked police van. As expected, eyewitness accounts of the event conflict with the account provided by police. According to Sean’s surviving friend Joseph, the plainclothes detectives never identified themselves as they approached with their weapons drawn.
Three of the five detectives were charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter, first- and second-degree assault, and second-degree reckless endangerment. But they were found not guilty on all charges at trial. Sean’s fiancée brought a civil lawsuit against the City of New York a year later. A settlement was reached to pay Sean Bell’s family $3.25 million, and his friends who had also been injured nearly $4 million in compensation for a total amount of $7.15 million.