Two police officers indicted for their roles in a 50-bullet barrage that killed an unarmed man on his wedding day will face charges of manslaughter, and a third will be charged with misdemeanor reckless endangerment, a person familiar with the investigation said.
The grand jury that secretly indicted the three officers Friday reserved the harsher charge for those who fired the most shots.
Michael Oliver, who fired 31 times, and Gescard Isnora, who fired 11 bullets, will face felony manslaughter charges, according to a person who spoke with The Associated Press Saturday on the condition of anonymity because the indictment is sealed.
Marc Cooper, who fired four shots, will face the misdemeanor endangerment charge, the person said. The person who spoke to the AP confirmed reports detailing the charges in New York newspapers Saturday.
Two other officers involved in the shooting were not indicted.
Prosecutors have declined to speak about the grand jury’s work and said its findings will be unsealed Monday. Lawyers for the three officers said they have been asked to surrender then for arraignment and fingerprinting.
‘You can indict a ham sandwich’
The officers have said they are innocent, and their supporters noted that an indictment does not necessarily lead to a conviction.
“You can indict a ham sandwich or even a rock in the grand jury,” said Michael Palladino, president of the 15,000-member Detectives Endowment Association.
The grand jurors who considered the case were instructed to consider several possible charges against five officers involved in the death of Sean Bell, who was shot while leaving a bachelor party at a Queens nightclub.
The police officers have testified that they thought someone in Bell’s party had a gun.
The grand jury declined to indict on the more serious counts of second-degree murder, or the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide.
Two of Bell’s friends, Trent Benefield, 23, and Joseph Guzman, 31, were wounded in the shooting. The grand jury could have considered charges as serious as attempted murder in connection with their injuries.
The decision came nearly four months after the shooting, which led to angry protests and raised questions about police tactics.
The men who were shot were black. Cooper, 39, and Isnora, 28, are also black; Oliver, 35, is white. Authorities said the other two officers not charged, one black and one white—were not charged.