May 9, 2008 --
There's a sharp racial divide in how New Yorkers view the Sean Bell verdict - but even white residents who endorsed the outcome say the three cops acquitted in the case should be disciplined by the NYPD.
A Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday found that while white voters backed Justice Arthur Cooperman's verdict 48 to 34 percent, black voters, by an overwhelming 89-to-8 percent margin, called it unjust. So did 71 percent of Hispanics.
Overall, 57 percent of the 1,790 registered voters surveyed between April 30 and May 5 disagreed with the verdict, while 30 percent agreed.
Voters by a 4-to-1 margin called on NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly to impose departmental penalties on the cops.
That sentiment cut across racial, ethnic and geographical lines with even voters on Staten Island - which has the highest concentration of whites of any borough - agreeing, 49 to 36 percent.
The majority of voters also said a special prosecutor should handle future cases of controversial police shootings.
Mayor Bloomberg came away with generally high grades for his handling of race relations, with 68 percent approving of his performance on that issue and 23 percent disapproving.
That's nearly a 180-degree shift from August 2000, when 26 percent approved of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani's handling of race relations and 63 percent disapproved.
Meanwhile, Cooperman, who cleared Detectives Mark Cooper, Gescard Isnora and Michael Oliver in the November 2006 fusillade signed an order turning over all evidence in the case to federal prosecutors, sources said.
The US Department of Justice has promised to review the case and will use evidence and data from the eight-week trial to help determine whether Bell's civil rights were violated.
A source said the evidence should be transferred next week.
"The DA [Richard Brown] has made a commitment to fully cooperate with the federal prosecutors in their inquiry regarding the Sean Bell case," said Sanford Rubenstein, a lawyer for the Bell family.
The verdict has sparked several demonstrations, including a citywide protest that shut down traffic Wednesday in several Manhattan locations.
Among those arrested for disorderly conduct were Bell's fiancée Nicole Paultre-Bell and her father, Les Paultre, who was held overnight on a 10-year-old trespassing warrant.
"I did more time than the police did, and that's amazing," Les Paultre said.
Additional reporting by Zachary Goelman and Laura Italiano
Article at: http://www.nypost.com/seven/05092008/news/regionalnews/nyers__rap_bell_cops_110079.htm