The mother of Sean Bell has penned a new book about her son, who was shot 50 times and killed by police in 2006.
The New York Daily News reports that Valerie Bell worked on writing Just 23: Thoughts From a Mother starting in 2007, and that the name came from her son’s age when he was killed.
“I wrote the book ‘Just 23’ cause that’s the age he was killed,” she said. “It’s a book that’s telling you about my feelings.”
The book is described as a poetic memoir that contains Bell’s reflections on the final days of her son, who was killed outside a bar by plainclothes officers on Nov. 25, 2006.
Police fired 50 times during the encounter. Bell was unarmed. Two of Bell’s friends, Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman, were severely wounded in the melee.
Three of the five detectives involved in the shooting went to trial on charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter, first- and second-degree assault, and second-degree reckless endangerment; they were found not guilty of all charges. Former NYPD detective Gescard Isnora was fired from the NYPD for his role in Bell’s death.
Valerie Bell made a brief speech and signed copies of the book at the National Action Network in Harlem Saturday. She read a poem and also offered some advice to police, according to the Daily News.
“You have to take time to think,” she said. “Cops need to know how humans are. They need to go out in the communities and know people.”
The book was published Aug. 19, and is available on Amazon, where the synopsis reads:
Just 23 will take you on a journey through the days that followed the fifty shots that were blasted by New York City Police officers, resulting in the murder of Sean Bell. Valerie Bell finds herself having to regroup and reconnect with her emotions. Her poignant recollection, as revealed to her goddaughter Kisha, gives an account of a mother’s heart that is ripped opened and filled with distress over the loss of her child.