Leaders appeal for calm after Connecticut officer kills teen

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — Government and community leaders in Connecticut’s largest city appealed for calm Wednesday before a planned protest of a police officer’s killing of a teenager.

Bridgeport officials, clergy and activists made the plea during a news conference, a day after an officer opened fire on a reported stolen car that authorities said had struck an officer and other vehicles during a chase. The teenage driver was killed and a 21-year-old male passenger was wounded but survived. Two officers were treated at a hospital for minor injuries.

By Wednesday afternoon, authorities had not released the names of the teenager who was killed or the officer who shot him. City Police Chief Armando Perez said the officer has been on the force for about a year. No other details about the teen or officer were disclosed.

The passenger was identified as Julian Fyffe, of Bridgeport, who officials said was the grandson of a city officer. His relatives said Wednesday that he was just getting a ride and didn’t know the car was stolen.

The shooting came less than two months after another city officer shot an armed 18-year-old man in the face during a robbery investigation. Police said the man’s injuries were not life-threatening.

In social media posts, supporters of Black Lives Matter and other groups urged people to attend a protest of the shooting Wednesday evening. City officials were expecting demonstrators from several states to take part.

“The country is outraged by the death of this young man but we have to come together as a community to try and find out how we can move forward,” Lyle Hassan Jones, a local imam and community organizer, said at the news conference.

Mayor Joseph Ganim said he was among the many people who were outraged that the teenager’s handcuffed body lay in the street for about six hours after the shooting and during the investigation until the medical examiner’s office removed it from the scene.

“It’s unacceptable,” he said.

Perez said the body could not be covered because of evidence-gathering reasons, but officers did set up shields around it.

Perez said city officers stopped a stolen car Tuesday afternoon after a pursuit in which the car struck several other vehicles. The car eventually stopped, and two officers tried to get the two occupants out, Perez said. But the driver suddenly accelerated in reverse at a high rate of speed and nearly dragged an officer under the car, he said. That officer opened fire, the chief said.

“The officer feared for his life,” Perez said.

State police are investigating the shooting.