[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Monday, 19 March 2007, 21:38 GMT
NY police in manslaughter charges
Sean Bell's car outside NY nightclub where he was killed
No gun was found in Sean Bell's car

Two New York policemen have pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and assault charges over the shooting of an unarmed man on the day he was to be married.

A third officer has pleaded not guilty to assault charges.

Sean Bell, a 23-year-old black man, was killed last November when police fired nearly 50 shots at his car as he left a club after celebrating his stag night.

The shooting prompted outrage in the city and triggered accusations of racism against the police.

Two other police officers present at the time of the shooting have not been indicted on any charges.

Intent to harm

The BBC's Guto Harri in New York says the charges are among the most serious which can be levelled against serving police officers.

Detectives Michael Oliver and Gescard Isnora have been charged with manslaughter in the first and second degrees, implying both intent to harm and recklessness.

Mr Isnora was the first to shoot and is accused of firing a total of 11 bullets. Mr Oliver is accused of firing 31 of the nearly 50 bullets aimed at Mr Bell and his two companions.

Sean Bell with fiancée Nicole Paultre
Sean Bell was shot dead by police officers on 25 November
The detectives opened fire in the belief, they have said, that the men were going to Mr Bell's car to get a gun.

The policemen have said that Mr Bell's car hit an unmarked police vehicle and the officers thought someone in his car was reaching for a gun. No weapon was found.

The police officers were conducting an undercover investigation at the nightclub in the Queens district of New York, which was being investigated for prostitution, underage drinking and weapons complaints.

The three officers entered their plea in front of a packed courtroom that included Mr Bell's fiancée, his mother and two friends who were wounded during the shooting.

Mr Oliver and Mr Isnora were granted bail of $250,000 (£129,000) and Detective Marc Cooper, pleading not guilty to assault, was released without bail.

The shooting prompted outrage in New York and street protests from activists demanding murder charges for all five police officers involved.

Our correspondent says the killing was widely seen as a disturbing sign of racism within the New York Police Department.

Three of the officers involved that night were black, two were white. Two of Mr Bell's friends, both black, were injured in the shooting.

Mr Oliver and Mr Isnora face a possible 25 years in jail. Mr Cooper, who fired four shots, could spend up to a year in jail.


SEE ALSO
Police indicted over NY shooting
16 Mar 07 |  Americas
NY police shooting victim buried
02 Dec 06 |  Americas
Mayor 'disturbed' by NY shooting
27 Nov 06 |  Americas
NY rally deplores police shooting
27 Nov 06 |  Americas
NY police kill man on wedding day
26 Nov 06 |  Americas

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific