Sunday, February 24, 2008

O'Neil Solomon's Death Sits Quietly in the Shadow of the Sean Bell Trial

As the trial of NYPD police officers charged in the shooting death of Sean Bell gets underway in New York City, a much less well-known milestone passed without much fanfare.

Last Thursday's two-year anniversary of the brutal police beating of former limo driver O'Neil Solomon's passed relatively unnoticed by most mainstream media outlets.

The beating he received at the hands of up to 16 NYPD officers in Brooklyn on the night of February 21, 2006 beating went relatively unnoticed too. Unfortunately is was drowned out by storm of controversy surrounding the Sean Bell shooting.

It's not that Solomon's death is any less important in it's representation of the problems that stem from the remnants of institutionalized racism within the NYPD sub-culture and a distorted perception of African-American and Hispanic males that exists amongst the more than 40,000 officers.

But the Bell shooting simply took place in a much brighter spotlight; and the violent reaction of the officers involved remains baffling in it's scope and horrifying in lack of reasoning or sense.

The confusing events that took place in the early morning hours of November 25, 2006 that led NYPD Detective Michael Oliver to pump 31 shots (he was struck by 50) into the body of young bride groom Sean Bell outside of a Jamaica, Queens nightclub are once again the subject of local and national media attention as the trial of the accused officers is now in full swing.

On March 21, 2006 the New York Daily News did print an article with the details surrounding O'Neil Solomon's vicious beating by a group of enraged NYPD officers after he fled from a traffic stop in Brooklyn on the night of February 21, 2006.

But it was published two days after the March 19, 2007 indictment of Detective Oliver along with NYPD Officers Gescard Isnora (who fired 11 shots at Bell) and Michael Cooper (who fired 4 shots) by a Queens Grand Jury on charges including first degree manslaughter.

Bell was finishing a night of celebration marking the end of his bachelor status, and was to be married in the morning. In contrast O'Neil Solomon had just fled a traffic stop that turned into a police chase. He was an ex-con with a lengthy rap sheet that included arrests for stolen property, assault and a sexual assault on a 13-year-old.

Maybe it's harder for the media to find a compelling story in Solomon's troubled past, but he didn't deserve what happened to him that night in the Brooklyn streets when the police caught up with him.

St. Vincent's Hospital nurse Janice Pinheiro, 37 witnessed the beating outside her Autumn Avenue home. She told the Daily News up to 16 cops hit Solomon with nightsticks and stomped him in the head and chest - when she tried to intervene and began pleading and screaming at them to stop, they handcuffed her and took her to the 75th Precinct station house.

Pinheiro's complaint led to the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) opening an investigation into the incident. In the days following his release, Solomon complained of feeling sick; he was rushed to the hospital on March 4th where he was pronounced dead.

But don't look for justice from the courts in this case. NYPD officials claim arrest photos show no visible signs of trauma - nor did the coroner find any. At least that's what they say.

Even though the process of the criminal case against the officers involved in Sean Bell's violent shooting death is just getting started, maybe there's a better chance that whatever justice is served will provide at least a measure of justice for O'Neil Solomon; though a measure unseen except by those who knew and loved him.


Ray Johnson said...

Has there been anything new happening with this case. I just happened on this article when searching for someone I went to high school with. Wasn't aware that he might be the one who died in 2006.

Ray Johnson said...

Has there been anything new happening with this case. I just happened on this article when searching for someone I went to high school with. Wasn't aware that he might be the one who died in 2006.

Kalila Green said...

I just found this out today. I have been looking for this person for the past 6 years. My heart is heavy.

Kalila Green said...

I believe the day that this incident happened was the day that he showed up to my home. it happened on the next block and I never know all this time. I am devastated.