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Sean Bell Pal Arrested for Driving Car With Covered Plates and No License

By Murray Weiss | February 16, 2015 2:53pm
 Trent Benefield outside court, where detectives were acquitted in death of his friend, Sean Bell.
Trent Benefield outside court, where detectives were acquitted in death of his friend, Sean Bell.
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QUEENS — One of Sean Bell's friends, who was with him the night he was gunned down by police in a barrage of 50 bullets, has been arrested for allegedly driving a car with covered license plates, having a suspended license and having marijuana in his pockets, DNAinfo New York has learned.

Trent Benefield, who was shot several times in the gunfire that killed Bell in 2006, was pulled over at the corner of 137 Avenue and 155th Street at 5:40 p.m. on Feb. 6 when NYPD officers spotted partially obscured license plates on his 2014 Honda.

When police pulled him over, they also discovered that Benefield's driver’s license had been suspended on Aug. 12, and that he should not have been behind the wheel. He also had a small amount of marijuana in a right pocket, court records show.

Benefield, who received $900,000 in a settlement with the city after the Bell shooting, was hit with several charges, including driving without a license, marijuana possession and obstructing equipment on his vehicle. He was released without bail, officials said.

Records show that the 31-year-old Benefield was also arrested last June 8 for assaulting a woman in a parking lot at 5 a.m.

Benefield allegedly chased his victim around a lot at 129 Avenue and 145 Street, grabbed her by her hair, threw her to the ground, yanked out “clumps of her hair” and then grabbed her by the throat choked her, court documents show.

His victim was treated for bleeding and bruises at a nearby hospital, and released.

Benefield was charged with assault, obstruction of breathing or blood circulation, and harassment.

Benefield is due back on court on March 23 in both cases. His legal aid attorney did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Back in 2006, Benefield, Bell and another friend, Jose Guzman, were at a strip club having a bachelor party for Bell on his wedding day.

The three men were in Bell’s car when police — who were working undercover inside the club and heard Guzman boast of having a gun — tried to stop them. But when the trio pulled out and nearly ran over an undercover detective, the NYPD officers fired 50 times.

Benefield was hit in his legs as he sat in the back seat. He was shot a third time when he jumped out of the car. Guzman also survived.  Bell, who was driving the car, was killed.

The fatal Bell shooting sparked protests against the NYPD and brought severe criticism about the slipshod undercover operation that day at the strip club.

Three detectives were eventually indicted, but later acquitted in 2008.

In 2010, the city settled lawsuits with the victims. Benefield accepted a $900,000 settlement. The Bell estate received $3.2 million and Guzman accepted $3 million.