NYC Mayor Visits Dead Groom's Family

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, shakes hands with New York City Councilman Charles Barron, as activist the Rev. Al Sharpton, center, looks on following a meeting of Queens community leaders, Monday, Nov. 27, 2006, at City Hall in New York after a weekend shooting involving police.(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
AP Photo
Mayor Michael Bloomberg met Tuesday with the family of the man who was killed by a barrage of police gunfire, the second straight day that he reached out to a community angry over the weekend shootings outside a strip club.

Bloomberg went to the family's Queens church and met with the fiancee and father of the victim, along with the Rev. Al Sharpton. He is later scheduled to meet with community leaders in Queens.

The mayor held a similar meeting Monday at City Hall in which he declared that officers appeared to use "excessive force" when 23-year-old Sean Bell was killed 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 Monday at a news conference after Monday's meeting.

Two of the groom's friends were wounded in the shooting Saturday following a bachelor party at the strip club. Suspecting that one of the men had a gun, the officers fired 50 rounds into the men's vehicle. The three were unarmed.

Bell's fiancee, Nicole Paultre, told hip-hop radio station Power 105.1 on Monday that the people who shot him shouldn't be called officers. "They were murderers, murderers," she said. "They were not officers. No one gives anyone the right to kill somebody."

Sharpton called Monday's meeting a "very candid" exchange. He said the message to Bloomberg was: "This city must show moral outrage that 50 shots were fired on three unarmed men." Some have also questioned whether the shooting was racially motivated — the victims were all black men and the five officers who fired their guns included two blacks, two whites and one Hispanic.

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

For a mayor to question the actions of the officers and defend the shooting victims while reaching out immediately to the grieving community — it sets a decidedly different tone than in the past. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani was hounded for what some viewed as a slow response to the killing of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed West African immigrant who was shot 19 times in the Bronx by four white officers. The shooters were later acquitted of criminal charges.

The gunfire in the current case stemmed from an undercover operation inside the Kalua Cabaret, where seven officers in plain clothes were investigating alleged prostitution and drug use.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has said the groom was involved in an argument outside the club after 4 a.m., and one of his friends made a reference to a gun. An undercover officer walked closely behind Bell and his friends as they headed for their car. As he walked toward the front of the vehicle, they drove forward — striking him and an undercover police minivan, Kelly said.