Sean Bell Shooting Trial Day 10: "What Did You Have For Lunch?"

Yesterday’s testimony consisted of two Port Authority officers staffing the Air Train station struck by a bullet from the shooting, and the Crime Scene Unit detective who examined that scene and photographed clothing of Sean Bell and Joseph Guzman, and Detective Isnora’s injuries.

First on was Port Authority Officer John Cea who was on routine patrol on the elevated subway platform of the Air Train, which ran north of Liverpool Street, where the shooting occurred. With him was his partner, Officer Brian Donnelly, who testified after him, a “Red Coat” staffer helping to direct passengers, a Transportation Security Administrator standing near the informational screens, and three civilians.

Around 4:13 a.m. they heard gunfire outside the terminal consisting of a few slow “pop pops” then a rapid round of succession. Cea immediately ran for cover behind a steel wall but Donnelly approached the Southern window to see what was going on. Right then, a bullet went through that window, shattering the glass, some of which lodged in Donnelly’s forehead and face. Donnelly then ran and Cea yelled out at the civilian passengers to “get down.” A man abandoned his suitcase and ran and two women ducked down behind a central informational stand. The Red Coat ran as well, but the TSA officer just stood there, then slowly ducked. A train pulled up and let a couple of customers off. Cea and Donnelly shouted out at them, but couldn’t remember exactly what they said.

After the gunfire, which lasted about 20-30 seconds, ended, Cea and Donnelly got everyone out of the terminal and down to street level, walked down to the street below to see if the officers who’d arrived needed help, then went back to the Air Train station and looked for ballistics evidence. They found a bullet on the floor and a copper bullet smudge on the north side of the platform across from the broken window. Cea put an informational pamphlet over the bullet to preserve it as evidence.

Cea sustained sprains to his left shoulder and wrist, likely when he hit the ground for cover, and was treated at Mary Immaculate Hospital. Donnelly sustained a torn rotator cuff and a sprained lumbar for which he received rehabilitation and surgery and was out of work for a year and four days.

Three surveillance cameras captured the scene. After about an hour-long side-bar, during which the courtroom was cleared and we stood outside in the lobby (likely so the attorneys and judge could decide which bits of the tape would be received into evidence), they showed the tapes on the monitors in court. The second one, showing the south side of the platform, was the most graphic. “Damn!” someone yelled as Donnelly was sprayed by a burst of blown window glass.

In the afternoon, Detective Greg Anzalone from the Crime Scene Unit testified. He recovered the bullet in the hall of the platform that Cea had found, and took measurements of a bullet hole in the window and a copper impact marking on the opposite wall.

His testimony about where he found everything ended up providing the comic relief of the day, which I think we all needed after that insanely long recess. In days of yore they used to have a diagram or photo set up in the courtroom and the witness would walk up to it and mark an X, or a “B” for bullet and “M” for marking or whatever they wanted. With this new technology, everyone — meaning, the witness, judge, each prosecutor, each defense attorney and each defendant — has a computer-generated image on their own computer screen. The witness is supposed to take a stylus and “mark” the area on their little computer screen where they found whatever they found. The marking then shows up on everyone else’s screens and on the large monitors on the wall above the judge for spectators (and I guess for jurors if there were any) to see. So far everyone’s making a little dot so small I don’t see how anyone can see it; I’m sitting in the middle of the courtroom and I certainly can’t. I have to wait for the prosecutor, or whoever is asking the questions, to read into the record where the witness has made the miniscule dot and the judge to okay it, so I know where in the world it is. But I guess the problem is, if the witness points too hard, a big red arrow shines out, and then if it’s not exactly where they intended it and they try it again, or if they accidentally touch the screen again, another big arrow shows and the screen becomes filled with all these crazy arrows and it’s confusing what is where. And one arrow or mark can’t be erased without the whole screen being cleared so, at points, the whole thing has had to be redone before being printed and entered into evidence because of too many confusing markings. Also, I guess it’s hard to make any kind of image other than a dot with the stylus because no one is being told to write anything other than a dot.

Well, Anzalone apparently wasn’t told the rules or how the stylus worked. When told to draw a line and point to the area where he found the bullet hole, he applied so much force he ended up with about four lines, three arrows and a bit dot. Very interesting stick figure. “Oops,” he said. The prosecutor asked him which line he intended to draw, but when that became too confusing, had the screen cleared so he could start again. Same thing happened. People snickered. He looked embarrassed. Immediately after the screen was cleared again, a big bright red arrow showed up on the bottom left corner of the the screen, completely outside of the picture.

“I don’t know, it must be my ring,” he laughed nervously.

“What did you have for lunch today,” Justice Cooperman said with uncharacteristic levity — with an uncharacteristic voice, actually — albeit still completely deadpanned. Everyone laughed including Anzalone. A lot of people, by the way (listen to March 7 “update”) are annoyed the judge isn’t showing more emotion or in some way indicating his thoughts, but this is how judges are supposed to act, like they’re completely objective and simply taking everything in. Unfortunately many don’t but that’s another story…

Anyway, finally Anzalone was able to draw only one line, but then when asked what the measurements were, marked them onto the screen, evidencing just how badly the stylus writes. His numbers looked like that which a two-year-old might make. The judge let them stand. Then, when asked to mark the area where he found the bullet, then the copper marking, he made big loopy red circles, which also resembled something drawn by the average pre-schooler. I really appreciated it though because I could finally see clearly what he was marking. But poor guy — he had no idea what we were all giggling at.

Anyway, Anzalone also examined the two police vehicles involved in the shooting: the Toyota Camry which carried Lieut. Napoli, and the ‘prisoner’ minivan which impacted with Bell’s Altima. From the Camry he recovered two shell casings (discharged when a bullet is fired), one from under the front passenger seat, and one from the rear passenger-side floor. From the prisoner van he recovered two shell casings at the base of the windshield wipers and one in the upper right area of the engine. He had no idea how that shell casing ended up all the way under the engine. Also, in the Camry, he didn’t see a police bubble light, which Napoli had testified he was bent down trying to find when the shots began.

Anzalone was also sent to Mary Immaculate and Jamaica Hospitals to photograph clothing recovered from Joseph Guzman and Sean Bell. The photos were shown on the monitors in court. Bell’s clothing was mostly dark-colored, so the only blood that was visible was on the waistband of his boxer shorts. Anzalone testified that the clothing — a golf shirt, t-shirt, thermal underwear, jeans and leather jacket — all bore ballistics damage and were severly cut by EMS personnel administering emergency care. Mrs. Bell (the mother) briefly left the courtroom at this point.

Guzman’s white t-shirt, light grey overshirt, and jeans did contain visible blood; there were a few large splotches on the right side of both shirts and a few smaller speckles on the left, and there was blood around the waistline and on the left leg of his jeans. His clothing was also severly cut by emergency medical workers. There were about five markers on the middle of the jacket’s right side but it was confusing as to exactly how many potential bullet holes those markers indicated, since some were surrounding a single hole. Somehow, though his vest was made of ordinary fabric, one bullet was caught in the jacket’s right-side collarband and one in the right-side bottom seamline.

Anzalone also took a couple of pictures of Detective Isnora’s right leg, on which there was a red, horizontal abrasion, on his shin area. Isnora had his pants leg rolled up to show the abrasion, but was also pointing to something on the pants, which Anzalone surmised was a marking corresponding with the abrasion. He didn’t examine or photograph the pants, though, so wasn’t sure.


  1. I don’t get the relevance of this testimony.

  2. One of the detectives — Cooper — is charged with reckless endangerment with respect to the people on the Air Train platform when he allegedly fired at an angle, sending one of his bullets not into the target car but at an 11 degree angle upward. So this testimony goes to whether he is guilty of that.

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