NEW YORK – A man who was present at the fatal police shooting of an unarmed groom on his wedding day denied Tuesday being the mysterious fourth figure who police say witnesses saw flee the scene with a pistol.
"There's no fourth man; there's no gun," Jean Nelson said, speaking publicly for the first time at a news conference. "We just want justice to be served."
Nelson, 27, was at a bachelor party for Sean Bell at a Queens topless bar on Nov. 25 before five officers fired 50 bullets at Bell's car, killing the 23-year-old groom and wounding his two passengers.
Police have said undercover officers conducting a vice operation at the bar believed the victims were going to retrieve a gun, but no weapons were found.
The officer who initiated the gunfire has said through his lawyer that he saw a fourth, possibly armed man flee the car amid the chaos.
Civilian witnesses interviewed during a follow-up investigation supported that claim and identified the fourth person as Nelson, police said.
The two survivors, Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman, deny there was a fourth man in the car — a version supported by Nelson and another bachelor party guest who says he witnessed the shooting, Larenzo Kinred.
Kinred, 33, also appeared at the news conference with attorney Charlie King. Both men refused to take questions from reporters.
King cited a preliminary police report that indicates responding officers never seriously discussed or initiated a search for a fourth man.
Critics have suggested the scenario was concocted to justify a shooting that has sparked community outrage.
The notion of a fourth man "is in fact a fallacy," King said. "There was no mystery gunman who was there fleeing from the scene."
A police spokesman, Paul Browne, declined to discuss King's remarks.
"Any information about the shooting is being turned over to the Queens distinct attorney for the grand jury investigation," he said.
King said Nelson and Kinred have been cooperating with prosecutors, who are weighing possible criminal charges against the five shooters. The officers have been put on paid administrative leave until the investigation is resolved.
The victims were all black; the officers were white, Hispanic and black.
Benefield, 23, was released last week from the hospital. Guzman, 31, was moved Tuesday to a rehabilitation facility, said his lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein.
Rubenstein said Guzman was shot 16 times and has no feeling in his right foot due to nerve damage. He said Guzman's battered left leg required a steel rod.
"He's in pain," Rubenstein said. "But he's alert and has a good attitude."