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N.Y. mayor says police shooting was excessive

Published Dec. 2, 2006

Mayor Michael Bloomberg weighed in on the uproar over a deadly police shooting Monday, saying bluntly that officers appeared to use excessive force when they fired 50 shots at an unarmed man in a confrontation outside a strip club hours before his wedding.

"I can tell you that it is to me unacceptable or inexplicable how you can have 50-odd shots fired, but that's up to the investigation to find out what really happened," Bloomberg said at a news conference after meeting with elected officials and community leaders, including the Rev. Al Sharpton and Rep. Charles Rangel.

The groom, Sean Bell, 23, was killed and two of his friends wounded early Saturday in their car after a bachelor party at the strip club. Suspecting that one of the men had a gun, police fired 50 rounds into the vehicle. The men were unarmed.

In her first public comments on the shooting, Bell's fiancee, Nicole Paultre, told a radio station Monday that the people who shot her husband shouldn't be called officers.

"They were murderers, murderers," she told hip-hop station Power 105.1. "They were not officers. No one gives anyone the right to kill somebody."

Some have questioned whether the shooting was racially motivated because the victims were all black men. The five officers who fired their guns were two blacks, two whites and one Hispanic.

Bloomberg said he did not believe the shooting was racially motivated but said "it's clear that people in this city do feel that they are sometimes stopped, frisked, whatever, based on their ethnicity," and he said his administration would work to prevent that.

Of the victims, Bloomberg said Monday: "There is no evidence that they were doing anything wrong," referring to everything leading up to the moment when they hit an undercover officer with their car.

Bloomberg also said police appeared to have violated the policy stating that officers cannot shoot at a vehicle being used as a weapon if no other deadly force is involved.

But Bloomberg was steadfast in his support for police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who has been denounced by some activists since the shooting.

The five officers were placed on paid administrative leave and were stripped of their guns during the investigation.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Monday that the results of his office's investigation would be presented to a grand jury.