Cops Cleared in Groom's 50-Shot Slaying

Brown said that the officers' legal problems aren't over and that he will cooperate with the U.S. Attorney's Office as it considers a civil rights case against the officers. He added that federal prosecutors have asked the New York police commissioner to wait on administrative decisions until they decide how to proceed federally.

Former federal prosecutor Kenneth Thompson said the severity of the 50-shot barrage, coupled with community outrage, could persuade the feds to try the cops for violating Bell's civil rights.

In December 1994, Officer Francis Livoti was acquitted in a bench trial of killing Anthony Baez, but was later found guilty in a federal trial and sentenced to 71/2 years in prison.

A civil suit involving Bell's death has also been filed.

"Criminal responsibility is a lot different than civil responsibility," Brown said. "These defendants and the other officers involved, they still have a number of hurdles to cross before someone says they've been fully exonerated."

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said during a post-verdict press briefing that he understood some people would be dissatisfied, but said his department did not expect violence to follow the decision.

Palladino said the ability to choose a judge rather than a jury to rule on the case was key to the officers being cleared given the emotional nature of the case.

"Even the most reasonable juror would have been swayed by the antics outside the courthouse," he said, adding that Sharpton's influence was undercut without a jury.

"Taking the judge not the jury kind of took the wind out of Mr. Sharpton's sails," Palladino said. "That's why he didn't come to court every day. There was no jury for him to play to."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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