She may have lost her future husband in a hail of police gunfire on their wedding day, but a court has ruled Nicole Paultre can still have his name.
A judge approved her application to legally change her name to Nicole Paultre Bell, in memory of Sean Bell, the unarmed victim of the Nov. 25 shooting, her lawyer said Friday.
Police killed Bell, 23, and wounded two of his friends inside their car after his bachelor party at a strip club where officers were conducting an undercover vice operation.
The shootings of the three men, all black and unarmed, angered the community and again raised the issue of police tactics. The officers were white, Hispanic and black.
The five officers who fired a total of 50 rounds have been put on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a grand jury investigation into, among other things, why the officers started shooting.
Paultre, 22, and Bell met in high school and had two children together.
In her application, Paultre wrote: "In honor of the memory of my fiancé, Sean Bell, the father of our two children who was killed by police on the morning of the day we were to be married, I request this name change so that my surname will be the same as my two children."
The name change was first reported on the Web site for Essence magazine. In an interview with Essence.com, Paultre said Bell was carrying their wedding rings when he was killed. After they were returned to her, she put hers on and buried the other with him.
Paultre initially called the police officers who shot her fiancé "murderers," but she has since said she does not blame the entire police department.