NEW YORK — A police officer who witnessed the 50-bullet barrage that killed an unarmed man on his wedding day testified Thursday that a detective gave repeated warnings before firing his gun outside a strip club in Queens.
Testifying for the defense, Officer Michael Carey recounted in measured tones the undercover operation that ended in the death of Sean Bell, 23, outside Club Kalua in November 2006.
Carey said he saw Det. Gescard Isnora walking toward a parked Nissan Altima with his gun raised, and heard him twice shout: "Police -- show your hands!"
The car lurched forward, Carey said, hitting the detective. Then it collided twice, at "a high rate of speed," with the unmarked police van where Carey was positioned, he testified. Isnora yelled, "He's got a gun, he's got a gun," and started shooting at the car.
Carey, who has not been charged, said he climbed out of the van and fired three times before Isnora stepped into his line of fire.
When he went up to the car after the gunfire stopped, Carey said, he saw Bell's body slumped over in the front seat. Two of Bell's friends -- Joseph Guzman, 31, and Trent Benefield, 23 -- were injured.
The confrontation lasted less than half a minute, Carey said. No guns were found in the car.
Isnora and Det. Michael Oliver have pleaded not guilty to manslaughter. Det. Marc Cooper has pleaded not guilty to reckless endangerment.
Carey, the first witness for the defense, described a tense evening during which officers suspected there might be trouble between Bell and another club patron. In his grand jury testimony last year, Isnora said that he heard Guzman tell someone, "Get my gun."
Earlier in the trial, prosecution witnesses testified that the officers did not give warnings or identify themselves as police. This week, Guzman told the court that Isnora "appeared out of nowhere" with his gun drawn. Then the sound of gunfire drowned out everything else.
"That's all there was -- gunfire," said Guzman, who was hit 16 times.
The case, known in the New York tabloids as the "50-bullet killing," has drawn widespread protests. Mayor Michael C. Bloomberg has questioned the officers' behavior, calling the shooting "unacceptable."
When the trial began in February, hundreds of demonstrators surrounded the courthouse, calling for an end to police violence and loudly counting off the number of shots fired.
More than a month later, the trial continues to draw a crowd of Bell's friends and family as well as local activists to the state Supreme Court in Queens, where a Cicero quote is etched in the marble near the metal detectors: "Justice is the crowning glory of virtue."