A 15-year-old boy is dead and a 21-year-old man is seriously injured following an officer-involved shooting in Bridgeport Tuesday evening, according to state police.
Bridgeport police initiated a pursuit after spotting a stolen vehicle outside Walgreens Tuesday evening, according to state police. During the chase, the stolen vehicle hit several cars along Fairfield Avenue and the pursuit ended with a shooting on Fairfield Avenue, near Park Avenue, just after 5 p.m.
Bridgeport Officer James Boulay opened fire when the stolen vehicle accelerated in reverse and hit an officer, according to state police.
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The driver of the vehicle, 15-year-old Jayson Negron, was killed and a passenger, identified as 21-year-old Julian Fyffe, of Bridgeport, was shot in the shoulder.
Two Bridgeport police officers also sustained minor injuries, according to Connecticut State Police.
Boulay has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. Following the incident, the Bridgeport Police Department contacted the State's Attorney's office and state police to conduct a full and independent investigation into the shooting.
The Bridgeport police chief has also ordered an internal adminstrative review of the incident
"While I have a zero-tolerance policy for police officer malfeasance and misconduct, I continue to stand strongly behind the good and brave men and women of the Bridgeport Police Department," Perez said. "Whenever there is a serious injury or loss of life we are all as a community deeply saddened."
Fyffe’s mother, Edris Lomax, said her son told her police blocked the car in and pulled guns on them and her son and the other suspect were trying to get out of the car to surrender when they were shot.
“The door just wouldn’t open. He was trying. Then they’re still yelling, ‘Get out the car, put your hands up’ and he was like, ‘What do you want me to do, put my hands up or get out of the car?” Lomax said.
Lomax said her son did not know the car was stolen and had never been in trouble before. She also said she thought Bridgeport police were wrong in the way they handled the situation.
“I’m seeking justice for my son because this shouldn’t have happened. There were other ways y’all could have did, y’all could have stopped them. You had them trapped already in the car. What was the point of them being shot?,” Lomax asked.
A crowd gathered at the scene Tuesday night to protest the actions of the officer who opened fire. A second vigil is scheduled for Wednesday night.
At a news conference Wednesday, Mayor Joseph Ganim called the incident a tragedy and pledged transparency and communication during the investigation. He said the tragedy affected all of Bridgeport.
“It’s a big city. It’s Connecticut’s biggest city, but it’s a close community,” Ganim said.
Ganim and Chief Armando Perez addressed concerns that the deceased suspect’s body remained uncovered for some time while Bridgeport police waited for the Waterbury State’s Attorney’s office, state police and the medical examiner to take over the scene.
Perez said the officer fired his gun because he feared for his life after he alleges Negron backed the car into him and almost pinned him underneath.
“We are depending on the state’s attorney and state police to provide an open and transparent investigation to resolve this matter,” Perez said.
Ganim and Perez both said they would work to streamline the process so something similar does not happen again.
Community advocates and faith leaders called for transparency and cooperation between officials and the community and asked that people put aside any animosity toward law enforcement. Advocates asked the community to channel their anger into something productive rather than taking it out on police and called for a focus on community-based policing going forward.
A rally started at 6 p.m. Wednesday where hundreds of people gathered with candles and balloons they released. They prayed together and said they wanted an explanation for the teen's death.
“You talk to me because that’s a child!” A woman who said she is Negon's aunt exclaimed. "I don't get it!"
“We have questions. We need answers. Yes," people chanted.
Gov. Dannel Malloy released the following statement:
“When the use of force by law enforcement officers results in the loss of life, justice is best served when the incident is reviewed by objective and independent entities. That is why in 2015, I signed a bill into law aimed at increasing accountability and transparency by expanding the reporting and investigation requirements in such instances. It is appropriate that Office of the State’s Attorney and the Connecticut State Police have assumed their respective responsibilities in the review of the shooting that occurred last night in Bridgeport. The State of Connecticut is committed to ensuring an open and independent investigation to determine the facts of this case. With that said, a young man lost his life last night and I am deeply saddened by this reality. I am sensitive to the concerns of all those impacted by this incident and ask for patience from members of the community as the independent reviews are being conducted.”
Detectives from the Connecticut State Police Western District Major Crime unit are investigating at the request of the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office, which is standard for a police-involved shooting.
Officials said during the news conference that the officer who fire his gun has been with the police department for a year.
Anyone with information is asked to contact state police by texting TIP711 and any information to 274637. Tips will remain confidential.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story said the teen was 16 years old but police have sent out a correction on the boy's age.