Bell's Family: Cops Should Be Accountable

A scuffle breaks out after the announcement of the verdict in the Sean Bell case outside of the Queens County Criminal Courts Building Friday, April 25, 2008 in the Queens borough of New York. Three detectives were acquitted of all charges Friday in the 50-shot killing of the unarmed Bell on his wedding day, a case that put the NYPD at the center of another dispute involving allegations of excessive firepower. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow) AP Photo/Jason DeCrow

Sean Bell's family is vowing to continue its fight to have someone held accountable for his death.

The statement comes a day after a judge acquitted the police detectives who killed the unarmed 23-year-old and wounded two of his friends the morning of his wedding. Bell's two friends were also wounded in the shooting, which occurred outside of a Queens strip club, the site of an impromptu bachelor party.

"I'm still praying for justice because its not over, its far from over," Bell's fiance, Nicole Paultre Bell told the CBS Evening News.

Legal experts say Bell's family faces an uphill fight in their attempt to have the officers charged with federal civil rights violations, and might have to settle for attacking them in civil court, where the city, not the officers, would be responsible for paying off any multimillion-dollar verdict.

New York has a long history of multimillion-dollar payouts as a result of civil lawsuits brought by the families of men and women slain or beaten by police, including many settlements in cases where the officers were acquitted of criminal responsibility.

Violent cases like these aren't contained to New York City, and a 2004 study points out that blacks are six times more likely than whites to be shot by police, reports CBS News Correspondent Priya David.

In 2005, New Orleans police officers fired six times, killing a mentally disturbed man armed with a knife. Last year in Oakland, Calif., witnesses say an armed 20-year-old Gary King Jr. was running away when a police officer shot him in the back.

As for the New York police officers acquitted in the Sean Bell case, it's not over for them. The FBI and the department of justice are now stepping in to investigate if the officers violated bell's federal civil rights.
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