Sean Bell’s Father on the Film ’50 Shots’ and Jason Mitchell Playing His Slain Son (Exclusive)

William Bell and Jason Mitchell in Queens, New York. Credit: TruVision Films)

Years before the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Oscar Grant; Sean Bell was fatally shot by officers in Queens, New York.

Bell’s life story and his 2006 death are the focus of the upcoming biopic 50 Shots, from TruVision Films.

The movie is currently in pre-production. We spoke with Sean’s father, William Bell, about police brutality, the current protests sweeping the nation, and Jason Mitchell portraying his slain son.

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William Bell said it’s painful to watch protesters continue to demand an end to police killings of African Americans after all these years.

“It brings back a lot of memories, a lot of bad memories in a sense, of another death,” Mr. Bell said of the protests.

“Just killing young people for no reason,” he added, “that’s the way I look at it. Most of the time, [the victims] don’t have a weapon. Like, what’s going on? What’s happening? What are they thinking?”

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Sean was fatally shot by NYPD officers on the morning of Nov. 25, 2006. He was 23 years old at the time of his death.

The shooting occurred just hours before his wedding, as he left his bachelor party at a Queens strip club. The facility was being investigated by undercover officers over allegations that the owners were involved in an illegal prostitution ring. Police fired 50 bullets into Sean’s car, killing him and severely wounding two of his friends.

The men were all unarmed. The officers went to trial, but were found not guilty.

The children Sean had with his fiancée, Nicole Paultre Bell, received a multi-million dollar settlement from the city of New York, according to the New York Times. However, William Bell told us there was no justice.

“We didn’t get justice. Not at all,” he said. “Nothing happened behind that. Nothing. So, where’s the law there? That’s what I’m saying. The law is so, so, so different for Black individuals. It’s pitiful. I didn’t believe it until I saw it myself in court.”

Mr. Bell said he welcomes the opportunity to have his son’s story told in a feature film. He gave his permission for the movie and has discussed the details with the filmmakers.

“We sat down, we talked about it many days, discussed the situation, what happened, what didn’t happen. People need to know the real story, especially the justice system, you know, how it operates,” Bell said.

Jason Mitchell has confirmed on social media that he is attached to executive produce and star in the movie. Mitchell’s previous acting credits include the critically acclaimed films Straight Outta Compton and Mudbound, as well as Showtime’s The Chi.

Mitchell made headlines in 2019, after he was dropped from The Chi amid allegations of misconduct and inappropriate behavior.

Asked if he had any concerns about the actor portraying his son, Mr. Bell said “people change.”

“No, not really at all because people do change. People deserve another chance,” he said. “That’s the whole thing. People can’t harp on things that happened in the past, because if we harp on that, a lot of us won’t get a chance to do anything. We all did a little something in our lives, some worse than others. But hey, what are you gonna do? I’m saying, he’s just a young human being, it happens… To me, it don’t matter. As long as the man do right by what they’re asking him to do, that’s all I care about.”

Editor’s Note: A portion of this interview aired on the Black News Channel.

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