Monday, May 12, 2008
Saturday, April 26, 2008
The top-to-bottom acquittals of Detectives Gescard F. Isnora, Michael Oliver and Marc Cooper were delivered by Justice Arthur J. Cooperman in an essay form bearing little resemblance to a standard jury verdict, and were met momentarily with silence in court as spectators looked at one another to be sure they had grasped what he was saying.
The detectives, all but obscured behind a human wall of courthouse officers, finally seemed to exhale deeply, even crumple, with relief. Detective Oliver — who reloaded his gun to fire a total of 31 shots and helped catapult the shooting from tragic mistake to a symbol, for many, of police abuse of force and poor training — closed his eyes and cried.
Except for a few scuffles outside the Queens Criminal Court building and shouted displays of disbelief and outrage, the day passed peacefully amid calls for calm delivered by the mayor, the police commissioner and other officials. Still, the Rev. Al Sharpton, a spokesman for the Bell family, called for street protests and said people should get themselves arrested, “whether it is on Wall Street, the judge’s house or at 1 Police Plaza.”
Legal hurdles remain for the officers: federal authorities said they would now investigate the case, and the Police Department is mulling internal charges. A $50 million lawsuit against the city, filed last year by Mr. Bell’s fiancée, who had two children with him, and the two men wounded in the shooting, may now begin moving forward.
The shooting of Mr. Bell, 23, outside a nightclub in Jamaica, Queens, early on Nov. 25, 2006, the morning of the day he was to be married, was the city’s latest crucible for distilling questions about police treatment of people of color and the use of excessive force on unarmed black men. The shooting lasted seconds, but offered a glimpse of what it is to live in a neighborhood where black men and women are stopped and frisked at a higher rate than elsewhere in the city.
But the case never became the racially charged lightning rod of its predecessors, like the case of Amadou Diallo, killed in 1999 in a hail of 41 shots. This was due in part to the race of the officers — two of the three on trial were black — and to the response of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who reached out to the victim’s family in a stark contrast to the response of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani after Mr. Diallo was killed.
Further, trial testimony showed that Mr. Bell may have played some role, however unwitting, in the shooting, as he was drunk by legal standards when he pressed down on the accelerator of his fiancée’s Nissan Altima and struck Detective Isnora in the leg in an attempt to flee.
Justice Cooperman, who heard the case without a jury in State Supreme Court in Queens, listed his reasons for throwing out much of the testimony from Mr. Bell’s group, including the number of times that witnesses were caught changing their story on the stand and the witnesses who had interests in the outcome because of the lawsuit against the city. Those issues, criminal backgrounds and the demeanor of the mostly young men on the witness stand “had the effect of eviscerating the credibility of those prosecution witnesses,” he said.
As for the detectives, the judge made it clear that he believed their versions of events over those of the young men involved, including Detective Isnora’s statement that he had overheard Mr. Bell’s friend Joseph Guzman twice say that he was going to get a gun.
“The court has found that the incident lasted just seconds,” Justice Cooperman said. “The officers responded to perceived criminal conduct; the unfortunate consequences of their conduct were tragic.”
But rather than call the shooting justified, the judge said that the prosecution failed to prove it was unjustified, as was its burden. Indeed, his ruling was far from approving of the detectives’ conduct during the undercover vice operation that night. “Questions of carelessness and incompetence must be left to other forums,” he said. He never mentioned the high number of shots fired, or the fact that Detective Oliver had fired 31 of them.
Similar statements came from the Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, whose office prosecuted the case. He said the trial “revealed significant deficiencies in, among other things, supervision, tactical planning, communications and management accountability — insufficiencies that need to be addressed.”
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who called the incident “inexplicable” and “excessive” in the days following the shooting, expressed sorrow for Mr. Bell’s family.
“There are no winners in a trial like this,” he said. “An innocent man lost his life, a bride lost her groom, two daughters lost their father, and a mother and a father lost their son. No verdict could ever end the grief that those who knew and loved Sean Bell suffer.”
The verdict came 17 months to the day after five officers pointed their pistols at the car Mr. Bell was driving and opened fire. The shooting followed a confrontation between Mr. Bell and a stranger outside the Club Kalua, where Mr. Bell had attended his bachelor party. During the confrontation, Detective Isnora said, he heard the threat about getting the gun.
In the events that followed, Mr. Bell’s car struck the detective’s leg and, twice, a police van. Detective Isnora said he saw Mr. Guzman reach for his waistband, shouted “Gun” and fired. The three detectives who were brought to trial fired 46 of the 50 rounds, killing Mr. Bell and wounding Mr. Guzman and Trent Benefield, another friend of Mr. Bell’s.
The detectives each spoke briefly at a press conference at the Detectives Endowment Association on Friday afternoon, variously thanking God, their families, lawyers and Justice Cooperman. “This is the start of my life back,” said Detective Cooper, who seemed to be fighting back tears.
The United States Department of Justice issued a statement announcing its own investigation. “The Civil Rights Division and the United States attorney’s office have been monitoring the state’s prosecution of this case and, following the review of all the evidence, will take appropriate action if the evidence indicates a prosecutable violation of federal criminal civil rights statutes,” the statement said.
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said an internal departmental investigation into the shooting, which could lead to a departmental trial and possible disciplinary actions up to termination, would be put on hold at the request of the federal authorities. This allows the Police Department, for the moment, to avoid the complex issue of meting out punishment to its own officers.
Mr. Guzman and Mr. Benefield left the courthouse without comment. Mr. Benefield — singled out by name in the verdict as giving testimony that contradicted the evidence — turned and shouted something back toward the officers guarding the building.
(Coincidentally, the judge paused in the reading of his verdict only once, to demand that a crying child be removed from the courtroom. It is unlikely that he had any idea that the child was Trent Benefield III.)
Mr. Bell’s parents, William and Valerie Bell, were sitting where they had been sitting, side by side, throughout the seven-week trial. Mrs. Bell had been looking toward the floor and blinking furiously during the verdict, and finally began to cry, covering her face while her husband stared straight ahead, looking at no one and shaking his head.
A woman sitting behind them broke the silence when she asked, “Did he just say ‘not guilty’?”
Court officers hurried the three detectives out a back door.
As news of the acquittals rippled through clots of supporters of the Bell family, Mr. and Mrs. Bell led a column of friends and relatives, including Mr. Bell’s fiancée, Nicole Paultre Bell, out of the courthouse. No one, including Mr. Sharpton, spoke, and the spectators on Queens Boulevard fell into a column and followed behind.
Mr. Brown, the district attorney, said he accepted the verdict, calling Justice Cooperman “one of this county’s most respected and learned jurists.”
“I accept his verdict and I urge all fair-minded individuals in this city to do the same,” he said.
He was asked if, in hindsight, he had any misgivings about the reading of the grand jury testimony of the three detectives from 2007 into the record during the trial. The readings were widely seen as something of a coup for the defense, with the detectives’ accounts of the panic and uncertainty surrounding the shooting coming across without the detectives having to undergo cross-examination.
“That was a trial decision that was made, I think appropriately made,” Mr. Brown said.
The lead prosecutor, Charles A. Testagrossa, an assistant district attorney, recalled criticism of the prosecution strategy of calling almost all the available witnesses, whether they were helpful or harmful to the prosecution.
“It’s very easy for people who are observing the trial to say, ‘Gee, you called this witness, and not this witness,’ ” he said. “If you think that criticism could have made us work any harder, be more committed to obtaining a conviction in this case, then you had a right to criticize us. But the fact of the matter is, knowing how hard all of the members of this team worked,” the criticism meant nothing.
Then he quoted one of his own witnesses, a stripper who appeared early in the trial: " 'It is what it is.' "
Justice Arthur J. Cooperman
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Saturday, February 2, 2008
If he is killed what will we really do about it?
When will racism and prejudice stop in America?
The only thing that is keeping America from electing a black man is fear and that fear is not of God. Fear is one of the most useful tools that keeps people operating in the dark. We need to turn the light on and see the truth.
The truth is that the most qualified candidate will not win, but the candidate who appears to be the one who will provide the most change for our current situation of pain and anger will win. We are fed up with the current officials.
To say we need change is an absolute understatement of fact. We change like a wet baby needs a fresh diaper after pooping and peeing. The change we need is dramatic and real. We have had too many mirrors.
It is so refreshing to see people registering to vote; some for the first time and others reregistering. The one hundred and fourteen year-old lady who just registered for the first time is a remarkable insite to the change that is needed in America.
Lies, Adultery and Deception are not needed to grace the White House. We need American leaders who aspire to old fashion values for morality with fresh new minds to clean up the American scene to reflect forward thinking and behaving.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
What the Lord gave me for 2008 from Loren (Paul) Due:
Ezekiel 21:25 -27 NLT
(25) O you corrupt and wicked prince of Israel, your final day of reckoning is here!
(26) This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“Take off your jeweled crown,
for the old order changes.
Now the lowly will be exalted,
and the mighty will be brought down.
(27) Destruction! Destruction!
I will surely destroy the kingdom.
And it will not be restored until the one appears
who has the right to judge it.
Then I will hand it over to him.
As you meditate over this scripture and began to fast and pray for the church in America let us keep in mind that God will have the final say. He is sending Jesus to catch away a church that is without spot or wrinkle or any thing else.
In the spirit of meekness and humility,
Loren (Paul) Due, Ph.D., D.Min. writer and author of "Don't Say A Word About This! Confronting and Exposing Sexual Perversion"
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Judgment against False Prophets
13:1 Then this message came to me from the LORD: 2 "Son of man, speak against the false prophets of Israel who are inventing their own prophecies. Tell them to listen to the word of the LORD. 3 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Destruction is certain for the false prophets who are following their own imaginations and have seen nothing at all! 4 "O people of Israel, these prophets of yours are like jackals digging around in the ruins. 5 They have done nothing to strengthen the breaks in the walls around the nation. They have not helped it to stand firm in battle on the day of the LORD. 6 Instead, they have lied and said, 'My message is from the LORD,' even though the LORD never sent them. And yet they expect him to fulfill their prophecies! 7 Can your visions be anything but false if you claim, 'This message is from the LORD,' when I have not even spoken to you? 8 "Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because what you say is false and your visions are a lie, I will stand against you, says the Sovereign LORD. 9 I will raise my fist against all the lying prophets, and they will be banished from the community of Israel. I will blot their names from Israel's record books, and they will never again see their own land. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD! 10 "These evil prophets deceive my people by saying, 'All is peaceful!' when there is no peace at all! It's as if the people have built a flimsy wall, and these prophets are trying to hold it together by covering it with whitewash! 11 Tell these whitewashers that their wall will soon fall down. A heavy rainstorm will undermine it; great hailstones and mighty winds will knock it down. 12 And when the wall falls, the people will cry out, 'Where is the whitewash you applied?' 13 "Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will sweep away your whitewashed wall with a storm of indignation, with a great flood of anger, and with hailstones of fury. 14 I will break down your wall right to the foundation, and when it falls, it will crush you. Then you will know that I am the LORD! 15 At last my anger against the wall and those who covered it with whitewash will be satisfied. Then I will say to you: 'The wall and those who whitewashed it are both gone. 16 They were lying prophets who claimed peace would come to Jerusalem when there was no peace. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!' Judgment against False Women Prophets 17 "Now, son of man, also speak out against the women who prophesy from their own imaginations. 18 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Destruction is certain for you women who are ensnaring the souls of my people, both young and old alike. You tie magic charms on their wrists and furnish them with magic veils. Do you think you can trap others without bringing destruction on yourselves? 19 You turn my people away from me for a few handfuls of barley or a piece of bread. By lying to my people who love to listen to lies, you kill those who should not die, and you promise life to those who should not live. 20 "And so the Sovereign LORD says: I am against all your magic charms, which you use to ensnare my people like birds. I will tear them from your arms, setting my people free like birds set free from a cage. 21 I will tear off the magic veils and save my people from your grasp. They will no longer be your victims. Then you will know that I am the LORD. 22 You have discouraged the righteous with your lies, when I didn't want them to suffer grief. And you have encouraged the wicked by promising them life, even though they continue in their sins. 23 But you will no longer talk of seeing visions that you never saw, nor will you practice your magic. For I will rescue my people from your grasp. Then you will know that I am the LORD." NLT
Friday, December 7, 2007
7:1 The Coming of the End Then this message came to me from the LORD: 2 "Son of man, this is what the Sovereign LORD says to Israel: The end is here! Wherever you look — east, west, north, or south — your land is finished. 3 No hope remains, for I will unleash my anger against you. I will call you to account for all your disgusting behavior. 4 I will turn my eyes away and show no pity, repaying you in full for all your evil. Then you will know that I am the LORD! 5 "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: With one blow after another I will bring total disaster! 6 The end has come! It has finally arrived! Your final doom is waiting! 7 O people of Israel, the day of your destruction is dawning. The time has come; the day of trouble is near. It will ring with shouts of anguish, not shouts of joy. 8 Soon I will pour out my fury to complete your punishment for all your disgusting behavior. 9 I will neither spare nor pity you. I will repay you for all your detestable practices. Then you will know that it is I, the LORD, who is striking the blow.7 Then he showed me another vision. I saw the Lord standing beside a wall that had been built using a plumb line. He was checking it with a plumb line to see if it was straight. 8 And the LORD said to me, "Amos, what do you see?" I answered, "A plumb line." And the Lord replied, "I will test my people with this plumb line. I will no longer ignore all their sins. 9 The pagan shrines of your ancestors and the temples of Israel will be destroyed, and I will bring the dynasty of King Jeroboam to a sudden end." Amos and Amaziah 10 But when Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, heard what Amos was saying, he rushed a message to King Jeroboam: "Amos is hatching a plot against you right here on your very doorstep! What he is saying is intolerable. It will lead to rebellion all across the land. 11 He is saying, 'Jeroboam will soon be killed and the people of Israel will be sent away into exile.' " 12 Then Amaziah sent orders to Amos: "Get out of here, you seer! Go on back to the land of Judah and do your preaching there! 13 Don't bother us here in Bethel with your prophecies, especially not here where the royal sanctuary is!" 14 But Amos replied, "I'm not one of your professional prophets. I certainly never trained to be one. I'm just a shepherd, and I take care of fig trees. 15 But the LORD called me away from my flock and told me, 'Go and prophesy to my people in Israel.' 16 "Now then, listen to this message from the LORD! You say, 'Don't prophesy against Israel. Stop preaching against my people.' 17 But this is what the LORD says: Because you have refused to listen, your wife will become a prostitute in this city, and your sons and daughters will be killed. Your land will be divided up, and you yourself will die in a foreign land. And the people of Israel will certainly become captives in exile, far from their homeland."
Read More . . .
When I was four years old, my thirteen-year-old brother raped me. My older sister and her friends treated me as their “doll,” dressing me in girl’s clothing. My father, a pastor, sexually molested me.
This upbringing led me to a life of sexual deviancy in which I was sometimes the victim and sometimes the perpetrator, to the point that I described myself as a “sex machine.” Through the intervention of God, I have been delivered from this cycle and cleansed, freed to live the victorious Christian life.
Sexual sin is rampant in the church. Stories of moral failures by men and women in church leadership roles have become commonplace. In the pew, too, sexual immorality and incest are more widespread than anyone knows—except those involved.
So long as these sins are allowed to remain in the shadows, they have power. They must be exposed, and the people affected by them must have help finding the recovery they so desperately need.
Don’t Say a Word about This! is designed to lead the church to find the truth and healing in Christ, which will set them free from the blight of sexual sin committed by Christians.
It is my conviction that every person has a right to live life from babyhood to adult life without any form of abuse. I believe that every person who did not have the opportunity to live from babyhood to adult life without abuse is entitled to healing, deliverance, and a second chance to live life.
The content of Don’t Say a Word about This! is drawn from my life, the Bible, a wide range of secular books dealing with human behavior, and films that address human pain and suffering.
My father was a pastor and part-time handyman at women’s’ clothing stores. Most of the time my brother and sister and I were left on our own since my brother was nine years older than I and my sister was eighteen years my senior. A lack of supervision, combined with my father’s sexual perversions and my mother’s continuing love for a man she married who had turned into a secret monster contributed to my exposure to sexual matters at such a young age.
For the first few years of my life my sister, eighteen years my elder, dressed me in little girl’s clothes and made me her personal doll. When I was four, my thirteen-year-old brother raped me. Dad often took me to work with him at the women’s clothing stores and while he worked, I would masturbate with the mannequins.
What does a young boy do when in the first ten years of his life he experiences rape and incest, is treated as a girl, and learns to masturbate in lingerie with an older neighborhood boy? He goes to a dark place in his soul.
At age eleven I became not the victim but the perpetrator. I molested one boy from my neighborhood and two boys who were members of my father’s church—usually in the church building or at church functions.
As I grew into my teens I was involved in many other sexual encounters with church musicians (male and female), and I had other sexual escapades at church meetings.
When I was eighteen I got married, thinking my sexual behavior would change. The marriage lasted twenty-four years but not because of my fidelity. I was faithful to my wife for only five years before the cycle began again.
In college, though I was married, my time was filled with the constant search for excitement and sexual release through:
- Marijuana, cocaine, crack, crank, speed, and other drugs I cannot remember
- Homosexual and bisexual acts
- Phone Sex
- Lingerie Fetish
- Oral Sex
By the time I was 30 I had had sex with more than one hundred women. I was a sex machine.
After college, I appeared to have a model life. I worked as an analyst for Fortune five hundred companies, I had a wife and son, and I was developing my own private tax practice. However, my personal life centered around one promiscuous affair after another.
I wasn’t living the Christian life by any stretch of the imagination at this point, but still something (Holy Spirit) prevented me from molesting my son, though my father had molested me and this is how the cycle is continued. God was intervening in my life, and in my son’s life, though I certainly wasn’t walking with Him then.
But His interventions were just beginning. He allowed me to be involved in a major auto accident in which four other cars ran into mine. I survived the accident, but was left with a recurring nightmare that eventually drove me to seek therapy.
I started therapy to stop the nightmares but before long I had spilled my guts about my sexual escapades. With the help of the psychiatrist and the Holy Spirit I was able to begin the healing and deliverance from my childhood sexual abuse.
It turned out I had repressed much of the detail of what happened to me as a child. Over a time, together with prayer and fasting, I began to hear from the Holy Spirit about how to proceed and get my healing.
I have been writing the manuscript for Don’t Say a Word about This! for over ten years. During that time many obstacles attempted to sidetrack me. One of those was how my brother, who physically raped me when I was 4, attempted to financially rape me 50 years later.
My father died a few years ago. After he passed, my brother sued several of the businesses that had cared for my father, alleging neglectful service. In order to retain the bulk of the award money, he and my half-sister told these businesses that I had died. By the grace of God I have been able to forgive my brother for both rapes.