The Associated Press
NEW YORK — A man has been accused of trying to discourage a last-minute witness from testifying before a grand jury that was investigating the police shooting of a bridegroom on his wedding day.
Melvin Cordero, 46, was arrested Wednesday and was awaiting arraignment on charges of intimidating a witness and other offenses, Queens district attorney's office spokesman Kevin Ryan said.
Authorities said Cordero was a supervisor for a cleaning service that employed the witness, whose identity was not disclosed. They allege Cordero repeatedly warned the witness he might be deported if he got involved in the case, which has sparked community outrage.
The witness appeared at the end of the grand jury probe into last year's fatal police shooting by five officers of 23-year-old Sean Bell outside a strip club. Two of Bell's friends were wounded.
"This office will not tolerate the intimidation of, or tampering with, witnesses and is committed to the vigorous prosecution of those who engage in such conduct," District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement.
The district attorney's spokesman did not have the name of Cordero's attorney, and there was no home telephone number listed for Cordero.
Earlier this month, the two officers who fired the most rounds were indicted on manslaughter charges. A third was charged with a misdemeanor for a bullet that struck an elevated train station across the street where the witness was working the morning of the shooting, authorities said.
Union representatives and lawyers for the officers have said their clients, who were conducting an undercover investigation at a strip club, became convinced Bell and his friends were going to retrieve a gun from a car after overhearing them argue with another patron. No gun was found.
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When one of the officers approached the car, it lurched forward and bumped him, then twice rammed into an unmarked police minivan as bullets flew, police said.