Sunday, May 18, would have been Sean Bell’s twenty-fifth birthday. But rather than mourn the death of Bell, who was killed in a storm of 50 police bullets on his wedding day in November 2006, his family celebrated his life with a private party.

Held at a Manhattan restaurant, the observance was attended by Bell’s parents, his fiancée, Nicole Paultre Bell, and their two daughters, and a crowd that included the Rev. Al Sharpton, New York Gov. David Paterson and U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel. According to reports, Bell’s fiancée and mother blew out candles on a birthday cake decorated with an image of him; a round of “Happy Birthday” sang by attendees followed.

Bell, who was 23 and unarmed when he died, dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player. The police officers indicted in his death were cleared of all charges last month. His family is now pursuing federal charges from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Credit: Courtesy of the National Action Network