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Sean Bell’s Friends Shed More Light on His Final Moments

Michael Oliver
As witness testimony in the Sean Bell trial continues, new details provide some clarification and more questions about the young man's last night. Bell's friends Larenzo Kinred and Hugh Jensen took the stand today to explain what they remembered about that evening outside of Club Kalua. According to the Times, they corroborated accounts by police officers that Bell had gotten into an argument with a man dressed in black who seemed to have a gun. The cops say that the altercation is what led them to believe that Bell and his friends might have been getting into the car to perform a drive-by shooting, but Kindred and Jensen say the fight wasn't so serious — both weren't even distracted from their pursuit of women they had met in the club. They also said they had seen two white men inside the club and assumed they were cops. There is still much debate over whether or not Bell and his friends knew white police officer Michael Oliver was a cop when he approached them in their car. Prosecutors have said that they did not, and that they tried to speed away because they were afraid they were getting carjacked. For more of what we know about that fateful evening, see Robert Kolker's piece in this week's New York. Friends of Bell Describe Argument Outside Club [NYT] Related: A Bad Night at Club Kalua [NYM]

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Chris Smith: Tony Ricco’s Racial Politics

Tony Ricco
It’s textbook defense-lawyer strategy: dirty up the victim. And, yesterday, during opening arguments at the Sean Bell trial, the tactic was on full display, as the man who died in a hail of 50 NYPD bullets took a few more blows, this time to his reputation and character. Totally predictable, cringe-inducing — and entirely necessary if you’re defending the detectives who killed a seemingly defenseless man hours away from his wedding. What makes the argument far more interesting, and potentially more powerful, is the defense lawyer who’s using it. Anthony Ricco is one of the city’s most gifted defense attorneys. He also happens to be black and Muslim, and he favors fedoras and eyeglasses straight from the Malcolm X catalogue. While Ricco’s race helps mute the blue-versus-black story line and regularly draws him taunts from simplistic racial demagogues like councilman Charles Barron, the attitude Ricco deploys on behalf of his vilified clients is fascinatingly complicated.

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