Enjoying well-needed glass of wine

Enjoying well-needed glass of wine

Originally uploaded by swan lake samba girl via mobile.

At Algonquin, between headache-inducing trial testimony from ‘suv guy’ & ny bar discussion on race & crim justice.

Update: So, that lecture on Race and Criminal Justice was really interesting, albeit short. It was given by the president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. I’ll write more about it this weekend.

Fabio Coicou, the SUV guy whose testimony we’ve all been waiting for, was on today in the Sean Bell Shooting trial, and, as I said, it gave me a big headache. It was really confusing; it didn’t make complete sense to me, and he contradicted himself a lot — both within his testimony today, and between today’s testimony and his earlier Grand Jury testimony and statements he made to the investigating DAs shortly after the shooting.

I have to go to sleep because I’ve been working like nuts and have seriously got a total of about four hours of sleep since Sunday night, but in a nutshell Coicou really tried to downplay that there was any real confrontation between him and Sean Bell’s group outside the nightclub at all. Said he was waiting for his girlfriend, a dancer at the club, to come out, when Sean Bell went into the club. As he passed by, Coicou told him he had “bread in there,” (ie: money — his girlfriend — in the club) and that “alcohol was taking control of the situation.” When Bell emerged from the club, he approached Coicou, standing “chest to chest” with him, and told Coicou that he “was not letting alcohol take control.”

Bell and his friends then asked Coicou where he was from, Coicou said “Atlanta” but lived in Far Rockaway now. Guzman said he lived in a section of Far Rockaway as well and Coicou told him he may see him around and if he did, this SUV was his car. He backed toward the SUV and had his hands in his pockets but wasn’t scared. Bell and his friends left and Coicou decided he would drive around the block, then return to the club and wait for his girlfriend, which he did. He said he didn’t drive around the block because he was nervous or suspected the men were going to return and harm him, and claimed he never saw men peeking around the corner after the Bell group left. After a defense attorney read to him his Grand Jury testimony, Coicou admitted he did see men peeking around the corner but he wasn’t nervous and didn’t suspect anything. Later in cross examination he said he thought the men leaving might be a “diversion” so he drove around the corner.

After driving around the corner, he returned to the club and waited for his girlfriend. He never heard shots and wasn’t told about them until his girlfriend emerged from Kalua. He maintained he never heard anyone say “go get my gat” (gat being slang for gun), but according to the DA’s notes from Coicou’s meeting with them, he told them he heard those exact words before the men left. The DA stipulated that the notes were accurate.

Coicou’s personality was curious to me. On one hand, he kept fighting with the defense attorneys, saying things like “I’m not on trial here,” when counsel would ask him about his prior crimes or “I’m just trying to be like you,” in response to the question “Mr. Coicou, do you know what ‘diversion’ means or are you using words you don’t know?” On the other hand, he walked with his head down, shoulders hunched over, and seemed nervous. Throughout the testimony, there were a lot of harrumphs and snickers on the defense side of the courtroom, in contrast to comments like, “That’s right, you’re not on trial!” and knowing laughter from the prosecution side. I think the two sides had vastly different interpretations of the value of his testimony.

Anyway, I’ve gone on for far too long. I think both Coicou’s testimony and courtroom reactions to it were very interesting and I’ll write more about it this weekend. After … sleep!

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