Wednesday, July 28, 2010

$7 Million Payout in Sean Bell Case

Wall Street Journal
July 28, 2010

The city reached a settlement Tuesday that will pay more than $7 million to the family of Sean Bell, who was shot and killed by police in 2006 in a hail of 50 bullets, and to two men with him who were also shot.

The settlement, approved by a federal magistrate judge in Brooklyn, will pay $3.25 million to the estate of Mr. Bell, who was killed outside a Queens strip club on the eve of his planned wedding. Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, who were with Mr. Bell and suffered serious injuries in the shooting, will receive $3 million and $900,000 respectively, the New York City Law Department said.

"The Sean Bell shooting highlighted the complexities our dedicated officers must face each day. The City regrets the loss of life in this tragic case, and we share our deepest condolences with the Bell family," Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo said in a statement. A condition of the settlement precludes the city from admitting any wrongdoing, officials said.

Sanford Rubenstein, a lawyer who represented the Bell family as well as Messrs. Guzman and Benefield in the civil suit, called it "a fair and reasonable settlement." He said the money will go to Mr. Bell's two young children and will be administered by his fiancée Nicole Paultre-Bell. The settlement was hammered out over two days of intensive negotiations in federal court in Brooklyn, Mr. Rubenstein said.


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