Church elders call for more police training after teen death

Bridgeport police investigating the incident that killed Jayson Negron, May 9, 2017 (WTNH)

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — Church leaders called Friday for better police training and other measures in Connecticut‘s largest city after the shooting death of an unarmed teenager by a police officer.

Gathering at the Bridgeport site of 15-year-old Jayson Negron‘s death, religious leaders called for police training on avoiding deadly force and for police to start wearing body cameras, the Connecticut Post reported (http://bit.ly/2sxXnrJ ).

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“They are not trained in making peace without the threat of more violence,” the Rev. Bernadette Hickman-Maynard, of Bethel AME Church, said. “(They) are woefully unprepared to meet the challenges of protecting, servicing and making peace.”

Police Chief Armando Perez says rookie officer James Boulay opened fire May 9 when he was nearly run over by a stolen car driven by Negron. Twenty-one-year-old Julian Fyffe also was injured.

Mayor Joe Ganim and Perez’s offices referred questions about the encounter to state police. State police said they won’t comment until the probe into the shooting is completed.

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Negron and Fyffe’s family dispute the police version of events and say deadly force wasn’t necessary. Fyffe has said he and Negron were left bleeding on the street for nearly 20 minutes before they received medical attention, even though police are trained in basic emergency medical care.

Church leaders also called for weekly updates on the investigation. They said community members were frustrated that authorities weren’t releasing more information, including the names of other officers involved, the autopsy report on Negron and whether the shooting was recorded by a nearby drug store’s security cameras.

“Only transparent and timely investigation of this shooting will build the confidence needed,” said the Rev. Anthony Bennett, of Mount Aery Baptist Church.

The pastors said they want to meet with the mayor and police chief by the end of June.