Nicole Paultre Bell should have been celebrating her first wedding anniversary on Sunday with Sean Bell, her high school sweetheart and the father of her two young daughters. Instead the 23-year-old observed the anniversary of Bellís death with an overnight vigil on a Queens street where he was shot by undercover police officers last November 25, the morning of his wedding day.
Joined by relative and supporters, Paultre Bell solemnly marched from the vigil to a nearby church where the Rev. Al Sharpton delivered a sermon and speakers remembered Bell as a loving friend and father.
ìI want justice, but no matter what happens, it wonít bring Sean back,î said Paultre Bell.
The tragic shooting occurred as Bell, 23, and two friends left his bachelor party last year at a Queens strip club. Undercover police officers followed them, believing the three Black men had a gun. As Bell tried to drive away, police fired 50 bullets at his car, wounding the other two men and killing Bell. All three men were unarmed. The shooting inspired protests from New Yorkers, outraged by what they considered yet another case of excessive police force against Black men.
In March a Grand Jury indicted three of the five officers involved in the shooting, on manslaughter and reckless endangerment charges. A trial is scheduled for this winter. Paultre Bell has also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the police department, the city, and all five police officers at the shooting. Her suit argues that the officers were poorly trained and opened fire recklessly.
ìI miss him with all my heart,î Paultre Bell said. ìMy kids miss him. And weíre doing the best that we can do to get through this.î