Family of Sean Bell Awarded $3.25 Million

Family of Sean Bell Awarded $3.25 Million


The family of Sean Bell, the unarmed man who was shot to death by police on his wedding day in 2006, will reportedly receive $3.25 million in a settlement with New York City.

Bell, who was 23, was killed in 2006 after he and two friends left a Queens strip club. He died when the car he was in was fired upon by five undercover police officers after one of the officers was reportedly struck on the leg by the car; 50 bullets struck the vehicles. Authorities said the officers thought the men were armed.

The city will also pay $3 million to Joseph Guzman and $900,000 to Trent Benefield, the friends who were with Bell that night.

“The city regrets the loss of life in this tragic case,” Michael Cardozo, the city Law Department’s corporate counsel, said in a statement to reporters. “We hope that all parties can find some measure of closure by this settlement.”

The case has been emotionally and racially charged and it spotlighted issues surrounding excessive force by police on unarmed black men.  Since the shooting, police procedures have reportedly been revised.

An attorney for Bell’s family and the two friends said the settlement was fair and reasonable.

Three of the detectives involved in the shooting were acquitted in 2008. The judge in that case cited changing testimony of witnesses, criminal backgrounds and the fact that Bell was legally drunk when he attempted to leave the club and struck one of the detectives in the leg.