The undercover officer on foot fired 11 times, according to police accounts, and he was soon joined by four other officers who also opened fire. Nelson said he ran, fearing for his life.
"Basically, hell is going on," he said. "They basically shooting … like it's cross firing. I'm trying to get out of there. So I ducked and started running."
Benefield was in Bell's car. He was hit once in each leg and then desperately tried to run away.
"I opened the door, jumped out and started running. Scared. I took about 25, 30 steps before I was hit again. Like right under … like under my butt."
Nelson said he saw Benefield after he'd been shot on the sidewalk.
"His legs was shaking on the ground," he said. "He was screaming. He was saying he can't feel his legs. After that, we got out of there."
Police had fired a total of 50 times. One detective, Mike Oliver -- who'd never previously discharged his weapon -- alone fired 31 shots.
In total, 21 bullets hit Bell's car. Shots also struck a nearby house, other vehicles and, astonishingly, the Air Train platform high above the road and more than 100 feet away. A commuter captured on closed circuit cameras could be seen inches from a bullet as it burst into the glass platform windows. He dumped his bags and ran for his life.
Guzman, Benefield and Bell were taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens, where Bell was pronounced dead at 4:56 a.m. He was due to be married that day. Instead of attending his wedding, his family was forced to plan his funeral.
Later that day, police sources suggested there was a fourth man in the car, who had a gun and then disappeared from the scene. But both Benefield and Nelson insist there were only three people in the car. Benefield said, "There was no fourth man … just me, Sean, and Joe."
When asked if there was a fourth man who left the club, walked with them, and didn't get in the car, Benefield said, "It was more than a fourth, it was a fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth. But when we got to the car, it was only three of us."
And Nelson believes there is an ulterior motive for the suggestion.
"I mean, basically, I think they said that because they gotta cover they own self," he said. "Fourth man, whatever, there wasn't no fourth man getting in the car that night, so they couldn't show no fourth man. They showed people running, but there was no fourth man with no gun or nothing like that. They gotta cover they self, so they gonna make up anything."
The Queens district attorney is conducting an investigation and has asked community leaders to be patient until he completes his findings. For Benefield, Nelson and Bell's fiancée, Nicole, he will need to explain how three unarmed men came to be fired at 50 times by undercover detectives who, the victims and eyewitnesses say, never mentioned the fact that they were police officers.
Civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton said they all deserve an explanation. He went to Bell's fiancée's house on the night she was expecting to get married.
"I remember that night we all went out to the fiancée's house," Sharpton said. "Trent's mother and Guzman's family, the Bell parents -- and we sat there and was talking and I looked over at … Nicole and she was looking at the dress she was supposed to be in then, getting married. … What's she going to tell those kids? What do we all tell our kids? 50 shots! Explain that."