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NEW YORK - The New York Police Department today called for an independent study into its training and tactics after police fired 50 shots at three unarmed black men in November, killing one on his wedding day.

The Rand Corporation will conduct the six-month study "because a number of questions have arisen" about police training since the November 25 shooting death of Sean Bell, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

Bell, 23, was killed and two others were injured after they left Bell's bachelor party in an incident that sparked anti-police protests by the city's black community.

Police have said the officers opened fire as the men were in a car outside a strip club, apparently in the belief one of them had gone to fetch a gun to settle a dispute at the club.

The District Attorney in New York's Queens borough is investigating the shooting.

Kelly said the Rand study will examine the gun training of New York police recruits, annual gun training qualifications, tactical training and the gun discharge review process.

It will also look into ways of stopping "contagious shooting," when one or more officers shoot simply because their colleagues have already opened fire.

Last year, New York officers fired 26 shots at a pit bull that had bitten an officer's leg in the Bronx and 43 shots at an armed man in Queens, killing him. In 1999, four officers fired 41 shots, killing Amadou Diallo, an unarmed Guinean.

Rand has done similar police studies in Los Angeles, Oakland, Cincinnati and New Orleans, said Jack Riley, a RAND associate director.

The city's police foundation will pay a fee in the "mid-six-figure range" for the study, Kelly said.

- REUTERS