Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Lawyer Who Defended Bell Killer Can't Make Up His Mind

It appears that Anthony Ricco, a lawyer for Gescard Isnora, the man who fired the first shot at Sean Bell and his friends that began the 50 bullet disgrace, has a tough time making up his mind. You see, he thinks that the 41 shots fired at unarmed black man Amadou Diallo by the NYPD in the vestibule of his Bronx apartment building is horrendous, but the 50 shots fired at unarmed black man Sean Bell by the NYPD is not only OK, but worth defending the man who started the shooting. After the Diallo shooting, Ricco sent a letter to the feds urging civil rights charges for the four cops who shot the African immigrant (those charges were never filed), saying that,

The New York City Police Department has acted with impunity in its pattern of excessive use of force and violence against members of the African-American and Latino communities. The tragic litany of violence shall continue unless and until the United States Department of Justice aggressively prosecutes the police officers who are responsible for the violation of basic civil rights of the citizens they are hired to protect.

Well said, and I completely agree with Mr. Ricco's statement. Now fast-forward seven years, when Sean Bell and his two friends are shot while leaving a strip club while having no weapons on them. One would think that Ricco would get his pen ready to write to the feds again in the case of another state court injustice akin to the one from the Diallo shooting. No dice. In fact, Ricco decided to defend Gescard Isnora, the officer who began the shooting.

Is not the Sean Bell shooting a continuation of the "tragic litany of violence" that Ricco talks about in his 2000 letter? Was not what happened back in November, 2006 an example of an "excessive use of force and violence against members of the African-American and Latino communities"? Even if you subscribe to the notion that the officers somehow had a right to open fire on three unarmed men on an open street, there is little doubt that 50 shots is, at the very least, a bit excessive.

The irony of all this is the fact that now Anthony Ricco will be begging the feds not to charge civil rights charges against his client for killing Sean Bell. Ricco is trying to argue that the cases are different, and he is right. One was in the Bronx in a building and the other was in Queens in a car. Beyond that, however, the cases are very similar. Both involve unarmed black men, both involve said unarmed black men reacting to guns being drawn on them late at night by plainclothes officers who may or may not have identified themselves as the po, and both involve trigger-happy cops who fired over 40 shots. Hopefully the remaining difference will be that Diallo's killers were never brought to justice and Bell's killers will be. Peace.

Photos - Anthony (Tony) Ricco defending Sammy "The Bull" Gravano in 2005 (ganglandnews.com), Gescard Isnora, Ricco's client (www.nydailynews.com)

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