Press Releases

CAIR-NY Urges Civil Rights Probe of Sean Bell Shooting

The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today urged the Department of Justice to conduct an immediate civil rights and firearms training investigation of three New York Police Department (NYPD) officers involved in the shooting of Sean Bell.
Last Friday, Justice Arthur Cooperman acquitted Officers Gescard Isnora, Michael Oliver and Detective Marc Cooper on all charges related to the November 2006 shooting death of Bell in Queens, N.Y.
SEE: Verdict in Sean Bell Case Draws a Peaceful Protest, But Some Demand More (New York Times)
In a letter to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, CAIR-NY President Omar Mohammedi wrote in part:
“Notwithstanding due respect for judicial authority and commitment to civil order and safety in New York City, I strongly believe that the actions of Officers Gescard Isnora, Michael Oliver, and Detective Marc Cooper in the November 2006 shooting of Mr. Bell warrant immediate investigation by the Justice Department as deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 USC §1983.
“It is my belief that the 50-bullet shooting of an unarmed man appears to be well beyond law enforcement’s lawful authority of reasonable force.
“Moreover, the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution guarantee all people the right not to be deprived of liberty without due process of law, to be secure in their persons when approached by officers acting under color of state law, and not be subject to excessive force used by an agent or officer acting under the color of state law. See United State v. Johnston, 107 F.3d 200, 208 (3rd Cir. 1997).
“This constitutional right specifically affords Mr. Bell the absolute right to freely access the streets of the city of New York. That right cannot be violated simply because of his racial, religious or ethnic origin. United State v.Lemrick Nelson, 90 F.2d 636 (2d Cir. 1996).
“As the former attorney of the late Amadou Diallo, I find that the actions by the officers in Mr. Bell’s case are reminiscent of Mr. Diallo’s untimely death that raised similar concerns of civil liberty violations and fears of unchecked abuse by NYPD officers. The reported assault of civil right lawyers and activists Michael Tarif and Evelyn Warren also is a reminder that such abuse disproportionately affects communities of color.”
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR-NY Civil Rights Director Aliya Latif, 212.870.2002, 732.429.4268, E-Mail:; CAIR-NY Community Affairs Director Faiza N. Ali, 212.870.2002, 718.724.3041, E-Mail:


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