Skip to main content
Home World U.S. Weather Business Sports Analysis Politics Law Tech Science Health Entertainment Offbeat Travel Education Specials Autos I-Reports
U.S. News

N.Y. mayor meets with dead groom's family

Story Highlights

• New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg meets with Sean Bell's family, fiancee
• Hourlong discussion focuses on investigation of police shooting
• One officer fired 31 of 50 shots discharged by police
• Justice Department poised to open federal civil rights investigation
Adjust font size:
Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font

NEW YORK (CNN) -- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg met Tuesday with the family of a man shot and killed by police early Saturday in an incident that has sparked community outrage and could lead to a federal investigation.

Sean Bell, 23, was shot to death by police officers outside a Queens nightclub hours before he was to be married to the mother of his two children.

Two others -- 31-year-old Joseph Guzman and 23-year-old Trent Benefield -- were seriously wounded in the incident.

Bloomberg told reporters he met for an hour with Bell's family and fiancee to express his condolences and discuss the investigation of the incident. (Watch Bell's father explain his son's fear of police Video)

Community leaders have demanded to know why NYPD officers fired as many as 50 rounds -- one officer alone fired 31 shots -- at the unarmed group of men as they were leaving Bell's bachelor party early Saturday morning. (Watch police acknowledge 'contagious shooting' Video)

"They are obviously feeling a terrible pain, and the one thing that they would like the mayor to say is the one thing the mayor can't say -- that there is nothing the mayor can do to bring back their son or their fiance," Bloomberg said of Bell's loved ones.

Bell was pronounced dead Saturday at Jamaica Hospital in Queens. An autopsy showed he was struck four times in the neck and torso.

As of Tuesday, Guzman remained in critical condition after being shot at least 11 times and Benefield was in stable condition with three bullet wounds, said a representative of Mary Immaculate Hospital in Queens where the two are being treated.

All five police officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave Sunday pending an investigation by the Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown.

Bloomberg said Brown's office was investigating the incident diligently and trying to determine whether a grand jury should be involved.

"District Attorney Brown is the one who now has responsibility for trying to ascertain what happened," Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg rejected claims that the incident was racially motivated, citing an NYPD policy against ethnic profiling.

Many black leaders have said the victims, all African-American, were unjustly targeted because of their race.

"There's no evidence that race had anything to do with it," Bloomberg said. "The police officers were as diverse as the people in the car." (Watch how high-capacity police weapons may bear part of blame Video)

Federal law enforcement officials said the Justice Department was nearing the formal opening of a federal civil rights investigation into the fatal shooting.

Justice Department officials acknowledged the matter remained under review and that federal authorities in Washington and New York continued to monitor events in the aftermath of the shooting.

Officials declined to confirm that a decision to formally investigate the case could be announced as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.

FBI officials asking not to be identified said they expected the Justice Department "very soon" to request agents for the federal probe.

"Until that happens, this investigation is completely in the hands of the Queens district attorney," said one FBI official.

The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division frequently investigates cases in which law enforcement actions taken against members of minority groups prompt complaints of police violations of federal civil rights statutes.

CNN's Stacey Francisco, Terry Frieden and Ellen Rose contributed to this report.



Quick Job Search
  More Options
International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise with Us About Us Contact Us
© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
SERVICES » E-mails RSSRSS Feed PodcastsRadio News Icon CNNtoGo CNN Pipeline
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more