One of the men who was inside the vehicle when New York City police officers shot and killed Sean Bell has been arrested on charges of assaulting his fiancée.
Official reports say that Trent Benefield, 24, who was wounded in the Sean Bell shooting, began striking his fiancée Nyla Page-Walthrus, 19, during an argument in Queens. Plainclothes officers were driving by the scene, witnessed the attack, and arrested Benefield.
Page-Walthrus declined to press charges, but the district attorney’s office has decided to proceed with the case anyway.
Benefield’s lawyer, Sanford Rubinstein, told the New York Times that his client was being unfairly targeted. “If he wasn’t testifying in a high-profile case against the police, we would not be here,” he said.
Sean Bell was killed by NYPD undercover officers on Nov. 25 outside of a Jamaica, Queens, strip club. Benefield and another man were also in the vehicle when the shooting occurred.
Three detectives were indicted on charges of manslaughter and reckless endangerment following the shooting. The incident has also resulted in demonstrations by activists claiming that the officers shot Bell because he was African American. The trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 7.
Benefield was released on his own recognizance.