Today’s news:

A Time to Heal

TimesLedger Newspapers

An NYPD departmental judge did what needed to be done when he recommended last week that Detective Gescard Isnora be removed from the police force for his role in the shooting of Sean Bell.

Bell, who was unarmed, was shot to death by police officers inside his car outside a strip club in the early hours of the morning. Isnora reportedly fired the first shot before firing 10 more times.

Altogether, the police fired 50 shots at Bell and his two friends. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly will make the final decision about Isnora’s future.

Keeping Isnora on the force would be a mistake that would jeopardize NYPD relations in this part of Queens.

Deputy Commissioner Martin Karopkin, acting as the trial judge, ruled that Isnora, an undercover officer, acted recklessly when he shot 11 times at Bell and his two friends — Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield — that night.

Bell’s fiancee, Nicole Paultre-Bell, whom he would have married later on that same day he was killed, applauded the ruling and asked Kelly to fire the three officers involved in the shooting at a news conference at the National Action Network’s Harlem headquarters, where she was accompanied by her lawyers and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Isnora’s fellow officers will no doubt argue that the judge’s ruling and the community outcry ignore the dangers that undercover officers face when working in dangerous neighborhoods. They will feel that the risks they take to keep the city safe and illegal drugs off the streets are not appreciated.

But there is no question that the shooting that night greatly damaged the NYPD’s relationship with the community in southeast Queens. Fifty shots were fired by the police and no weapons were found on any of the suspects.

Kelly has little choice. He must let Isnora go.

Nothing that Kelly will do is likely to heal the pain that Paultre-Bell continues to feel. Throughout this tragedy, she has conducted herself with dignity and restraint. Hopefully, the people of southeast Queens and the police can now begin to rebuild a relationship based on trust and confidence, that the police are there for their protection.

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