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Giovanni Rivera, Jayson Negron’s cousin, a 15-year-old killsed by Bridgeport, CT police, tweeted out a video on May 12, 2017 and it is heartbreaking.

“It’s very painful to watch, but it’s very important we put it out there because we were lied to by the police,”  Rivera told the Hartford Courant in April.

https://twitter.com/ftwgiovanni/status/863142875802021888
Video here: https://twitter.com/ftwgiovanni/status/863142875802021888

Jayson was shot by Bridgeport police officer James Boulay on May 9, 2017. The video shows movement in Jayson’s body, indicating he may have been alive “shortly after being shot by police.”

In response to the video, the ACLU has called the Bridgeport Police “callus.”

Police are terrorizing communities

Negron was the sixth person in Connecticut to die during a police pursuit this year. Just one month before Negron’s deadly encounter, Anibal Diaz was awarded a $323,000 judgement after winning an excessive force lawsuit against the Bridgeport Police. Negron was the third 15-year-old shot by U.S. police in a month.

Police statements are unreliable

Police statements have been used to hide brutality and protect fellow officers from public scrutiny. Five West Hartford police officers were disciplined after a video of excessive force were discovered.

It was a shocking mug shot of Emilio Diaz that motivated a request for the dash cam video. The departments dash cam video of the arrest shows a West Hartford Police Officer stomping on the head of Emilio Diaz. Diaz was already handcuffed and lying on the ground. Six officers failed to report the excessive force.

Emilio Diaz's mugshot from West Hartford Police
Emilio Diaz’s mugshot from West Hartford Police

Racial Bias

Young black and latino males are disproportionately the victims of excessive force. As children they are more likely to be seen as a threat. Studies show that police dehumanize black children and see them as older than they are. Even at age 12, Tamir Rice was gunned down with zero hesitation. Many teenagers get into trouble growing up, but not all get treated as a threat.

Community Action

Currently, a group of pastors are trying to have a face to face meeting with Chief Perez to discuss police and community relations. Chief Perez said he’s been really busy, but intends to meet with them.

“We were about to stage a [protest] because the chief hadn’t returned calls or emails,” said The Rev. Cass Shaw of the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport. “There is one set up now. Which is great.”

There was an open letter in the Post to the Mayor and City Council of Bridgeport, written by Rev. Herron Keyon Gaston – ” As a pastor and community activist residing in the City of Bridgeport, I am calling on you to hold a public community forum to proactively address [the use of force].”  

The letter continued with a few more recommendations, including body cameras, dash cams and de-escalation training. 

Lack of diversity in the department

This is a common complaint and Rev. Gaston explained it well:

“For many years, we have hired police officers who do not have a real sense of the community to which they serve, and who come from suburban areas around the State with minimal training on how to police in a predominantly urban context. Many of these officers patrol the community as if they are going into combat zone.”

This hits the nail on the head. Just look at the way they dress in full battle gear while giving out driving infractions. It has to have a physiological effect on both the cops and the public. They look like they are from another planet, let alone the suburbs.

It’s impossible not to notice how many white officers are in the department of a community that is very diverse. We’ve seen some national attention on this issue in Baltimore and Milwaukee, but this is the norm all over the country.

The City Council

The demeanor of the Bridgeport Police after Jason Negron’s shooting was not acceptable. How do you handcuff a dying 15-year-old child and leave him on the cold hard pavement for hours?

How do you wait 15 minutes to call an ambulance and not attempt first aid?

Bridgeport Police Chief Armando Perez apologized for how Negron’s corpse was treated and swore it would never happen again.

“We listen to the community … We’re trying to provide a higher level of dignity for crime victims,” Chief Perez said.

The Department is looking at purchasing screens to keep victims out of the public view.

“I’d rather that they spend [that] money on de-escalation classes,” Negron’s sister, Jazmarie Melendez, said.

She could have a point.  Salt Lake City did invest in de-escalation and has gone a year and a half without a single officer involved in a fatal shooting.

I know one thing for sure, the police don’t come out for free. The City Council controls their budget, so Rev. Gaston addressed the letter to them for good reason. They can disband the entire police department. It just happened in Forest Lake, Minnesota. The City Council has real leverage to fund de-escalation training and body cameras, and Rev. Gaston called them out perfectly and they should “comply” with his demands.

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Eric Bierce
Contributing from Waterbury, CT. I'm passionate about social justice and human rights. I enjoy telling the truth as I see it, without apology. You might find me playing Ukulele on my patio when I'm not distracted by the political madness.