WARNING: Some may find this video disturbing.
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH)– Some state lawmakers are joining a chorus of supporters calling for more police accountability, especially in cases in which excessive force is used. They’re suggesting officers be suspended without pay after the use of force, and are recommending termination for any officer found guilty of any crime. It’s all in direct response to a recent deadly police shooting in Bridgeport.
Bridgeport police under fire for shooting of 15 year-old suspect. Proposed bill would put officers on unpaid leave after use of force. pic.twitter.com/mAQscflHZZ
— Kent Pierce (@kentpierce8) May 16, 2017
Tuesday morning supporters of the bill took their concerns to the State Capital.
“Police cannot act as judge, jury and executioner on our streets,” said Isa Mujahid, the organizing director of CTCORE-Organize Now!
Several lawmakers say now is the time to pass a bill changing the way the state investigates police use of force. They have tried and failed before, but that was before that outrage over the death of 15 year-old Jayson Negron.
“The impetus for this bill was the people that I represent saying, ‘When are you going to do something about the way we are policed? When are you going to do something about the way our children are being shot down in the streets?'” said State Rep. Robyn Porter, (D) New Haven.
Tuesday of last week, Bridgeport police chased a stolen car. They had it cornered, but then the driver put it in reverse, hitting one officer, so Officer James Boulay shot the driver.
The driver was a 15-year-old boy named Jayson Negron. Police say he died right away, but then the video came out. Negron is on the ground, already handcuffed by police. His head facing to his right, then a few seconds later his head is facing the other way. Someone could have moved his body, but some say this proves Negron was still alive and should have been taken to a hospital.
State Police are investigating and Officer Boulay is on paid leave. That is standard procedure right now. The new bill would change that procedure,
“It has been determined that there was excessive force used,” explained Rep. Porter. “What hasn’t been determined is whether the officer is guilty or not. So we say, until that determination has been made that an officer should be sat down and not paid.”
The bill would allow for back pay if the officer is found innocent. It would also terminate any officer guilty of wrongdoing on the job.
“It’s not only a violation of due process, it’s most likely a violation of every collective bargaining agreement in the state. We have protocols in place,” said Chief John Gavallas of the Watertown Police Department, and Vice President of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association.
The Police Chiefs Association has opposed bills like this before, saying deciding to use deadly force is already the toughest thing an officer has to do.
“If an officer believes he is going to lose his paycheck and possibly his job because he is acting in an official capacity as a police officer, it’s just going to add much more stress,” Gavallas said.
A spokesman for the City of Bridgeport said the city is committed to improving relations between police and the community. He also reminds everyone that despite that cell phone video, the incident is still very much under investigation by the state police, as is standard protocol.