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Judge: Cop in Bell shooting should be fired

Detective Gescard Isnora leaves court during his trial

Detective Gescard Isnora leaves court during his trial in the 2006 shooting death Sean Bell. (Feb. 28, 2008) Credit: Getty Images

A police administrative judge has recommended that Det. Gescard Isnora, one of the NYPD officers involved in the 2006 Sean Bell shooting, be fired for his actions leading to the 50-shot fusillade that killed the 23-year-old black Queens man, a law enforcement official said Wednesday.

Michael Carey, a second officer involved in the November 2006 shooting, who fired three shots, was cleared of wrongdoing and shouldn't be disciplined, the judge is recommending, said the official who asked not to be named.

The recommendation by Martin Karopkin, the NYPD deputy commissioner for trials, follows a hearing in October in which both officers testified in their defense. Karopkin's recommendation is not final and won't be submitted to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly until Dec. 15 for a final determination, the official said.

Defense attorneys for Isnora, who fired 11 shots in the confrontation near Club Kalua, a Jamaica strip club, will be able to submit a rebuttal to Kelly of Karopkin's recommendation, the official noted. NYPD lawyers can also challenge Karopkin's exoneration of Carey, the official said.

Karopkin found that Isnora violated police rules when he stepped outside his undercover role -- he had been in that posture in Club Kalua, looking for prostitution and drug violations -- and confronted Bell as he was about to drive away with two friends -- who were both wounded in the shooting -- in his car after his bachelor party.

Karopkin also said Isnora violated police guidelines when he fired at Bell. Isnora testified that Bell drove his car at him and that he fired in self-defense. Isnora testified that he believed someone in Bell's car had a gun and was going to use it.

Isnora and two other officers were acquitted in a 2008 nonjury trial of homicide charges. Carey was not charged criminally.

Kelly's ruling, when it happens, will put an end to a key phase of the Bell case, which sparked large protests against police tactics. The Rev. Al Sharpton, who played a role in those protests, applauded news of Karopkin's recommendation and asked for Kelly to immediately fire Isnora.

"Though I feel that the judge erred with his find on Officer Michael Carey, I strongly agree that his decision on Isnora vindicates the position of those of us who have worked to vindicate Sean Bell and his family," Sharpton said in a statement.

Defense attorneys Phil Karsyk, who represents Isnora, declined to comment. Stephen Worth, who defended Carey, couldn't be reached. Michael Palladino, head of the detective's union, said he strongly disagreed with Karopkin's recommendations but wouldn't elaborate because of the ongoing process.

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