NEW YORK (WPIX)—No amount of money will ever ease the pain or bring Sean Bell back, but after several years of litigation, a million dollar settlement has been reached in the civil suit against the city of New York.
Bell was shot down in a hail of police gunfire nearly four years ago in front of Club Kalua, a now closed Queens, New York nightclub.
In the early morning of Nov. 25, 2006, five New York City undercover cops fired 50 shots at the 23-year-old just moments after he finished celebrating his bachelor party. Bell was to be married just hours later.
Two of Bell's friends who were in the car, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, were hospitalized with multiple gunshot wounds.
Only three of the five cops in the Sean Bell shooting were criminally indicted and all were eventually cleared of charges in Bell's death.
The city settled the resulting civil cases Tuesday for over $7 million. PIX 11 News has learned that $3.25 million will go to the Sean Bell Estate, while $3 million will go to Joseph Guzman and $900,000 to Trent Benefield.
Upon learning the settlement, the New York City Law Department issued the following statement Tuesday: "The Sean Bell shooting highlighted the complexities our dedicated officers must face each day."
"The City regrets the loss of life in this tragic case, and we share our deepest condolences with the Bell family. The City is also settling claims with Mr. Guzman and Mr. Benefield. We hope that all parties can find some measure of closure by this settlement."
The Reverend Al Sharpton wasted no time in issuing a statement of his own saying, "National Action Network and I have said from the moment we were called the day Sean Bell was killed and Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield were wounded that we would stand by the family no mater what.
"I respect and defer to their judgment no matter what and we are mindful that this continues to be a cause of deep concern for us. Nicole Paultre Bell has to labor to raise two children with no father and to provide for them and Joseph Guzman still carries bullets in his body and may never be able to work a regular job."
"Trent Benefield carries scars for life. They must all provide for their families but this in no way mitigates or repairs the permanent damage done to them and the pain it has caused them forever nor does it diminish the outrage in the community. We will always pursue justice for the family of Sean Bell, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield."
Conflicting testimony surrounded the Sean Bell shooting. Some witnesses testified they never heard the officers identify themselves as police.
However, Gescard Isnora told the Grand Jury he put his Detective's shield on his collar so the men in the car outside the club could see it and yelled "police" and commands to stop. Isnora testified that he saw a passenger reach into his waistband and then start to raise his arm, prompting the officer to fire 11 shots.
Detective Michael Oliver who fired 31 shots testified he shouted "police! don't move!" and said he believed the man's friend was reaching for a weapon before officers began firing, saying "I felt he had a gun, and I couldn't wait anymore."
WEB PRODUCED BY ANDREW RAMOS