Last updated: 3 months ago
The lives of a troubled 15-year-old and a rookie cop collided on a spring evening with tragic results, and now Connecticut law enforcement authorities must sort out whether Jayson Negron’s death at the officer’s hands was justified.
Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane announced on Wednesday that Waterbury State’s Attorney Maureen Platt will oversee the State Police investigation into Tuesday’s shooting. That probe is expected to take several months.
“My brother is gone,” Negron’s sister, Jazmarie Melendez, 19, said Wednesday, hours after her sibling was shot in the side of the head outside of a Park Avenue Walgreens Pharmacy, behind the wheel of a stolen vehicle.
“Was my brother taken (because of) an officer not knowing how to do his job?” Melendez asked.
“While this is a very tragic incident,” Police Chief Armando “A.J.” Perez said, “based on all the information I have, I can say our officers acted within the guidelines of the law and within department policy.”
And then there is Mayor Joe Ganim. He successfully courted minority votes and the cop union’s endorsement when he campaigned in 2015 for his old job of mayor, and is now considering a bid for governor. Perez was one of Ganim’s closest campaign advisers.
Ganim, at a press conference Wednesday afternoon in his downtown offices, avoided placing blame in Negron’s killing. He instead focused his anger on the fact that the boy’s lifeless, handcuffed body was left exposed well into Tuesday night — something Perez blamed on his state counterparts.
“It bothers me to have a body of a deceased young person — someone’s child — out in the open for six, seven hours,” Ganim, a father of three, said, echoing sentiments shared by witnesses on social media. “It’s ... unacceptable from a community perspective. I share that outrage.”
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, in a statement late Wednesday, pledged “an open and independent investigation” into the shooting.
“A young man lost his life last night and I am deeply saddened by this reality,” Malloy said. “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.”
Tuesday night’s shooting began as an attempt by officers to stop a stolen car on Park Avenue. After cutting through the Walgreen’s parking lot, Perez said the vehicle traveled the wrong way on intersecting Fairfield Avenue, striking other cars. Officers boxed it in with their cruisers.
Two officers exited their vehicle and approached the stolen car, demanding that the occupants get out. Perez said one officer had his hand on the driver’s side door handle and a rookie officer was behind the stolen car when Negron suddenly put it in reverse “at a high rate of speed,” hitting the new cop, pinning him “almost under the vehicle.”
“At that point the officer feared for his life, withdrew his weapon, shot the passenger, shot the operator of the vehicle,” Perez said. He added, “The officer was being sucked under the car. He made a split second decision that officers sometimes have to make and he is devastated that as a result a young teenager is dead.”
Perez said other officers arrived on the scene. Negron and the passenger were both pulled out of the vehicle and handcuffed.
“Medics arrived relatively quickly,” Perez said. “They determined the driver of the vehicle had passed away.”
Negron’s passenger, 21-year-old Julian Fyffe, the grandson of a decorated city police officer, was shot in the shoulder and is expected to make a full recovery at Bridgeport Hospital.
Perez would not release the name of the officer that shot Negron but said he is on leave and has been offered counseling. He said the officer, 30, had been on the force for about a year and was a U.S. Army veteran.
In addition to his Army training, Perez said, the officer had two weeks of firearms training at the police academy and has gone twice a week to the gun range for additional training.
Perez acknowledged reports from Fyffe’s family that Fyffe had gotten a ride from Negron and did not know the car was stolen.
“There are two sides to every story and we are awaiting the results of the state police investigation,” Perez said.
The chief also said that he asked for Negron’s body to be covered.
“But I was told it could not be covered because that would damage the evidence,” the chief explained.
Homicides going up
Ganim and the chief were joined at Wednesday’s press conference by some city council members and other community leaders, including from anti-gun and victim’s advocate groups.
While campaigning in 2015 Ganim aggressively attacked then-incumbent Bill Finch over that year’s mounting homicides and gun violence, promising he would do better.
And last year homicides were down — from 19 in 2015 to 10 — under the returned Ganim. Negron was the 11th homicide of 2017. And just three weeks ago a Stamford man became the seventh homicide when he was shot and killed on McLevy Green, a block from the mayor’s offices.
The Ganim administration, seeking to avoid the negative out-of-town media coverage, did not hold a news conference about the downtown homicide.
And the mayor who, when a candidate, benefited from negative press about crime under Finch, admitted at the start of Wednesday’s event, “We didn’t really want to do a press conference.”
He said he visited the crime scene Tuesday, but it was a quiet visit. Ganim did not exit his vehicle.
Ganim let Perez and his guests do most of the talking, even when asked about strategies to deal with the violence.
“Sometimes we make promises that are impossible for us to keep,” Councilwoman Rev. Mary Lee McBride, a supporter of Ganim’s, said Wednesday as she arrived at the mayor’s office. “I think he’s doing the best that he can. Nobody can predict anything. I’m sure the mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles, if they could stop these kids from getting killed, they would. They can’t even do anything about it.”
Cellphone video taken after the shooting and embedded below seems to show the body moving or being moved as the position of the victim's head changes during the video.
In a report released Friday afternoon, January 26, 2018, Bridgeport Police Officer James Boulay was cleared by Waterbury State’s Attorney Maureen Platt of criminal charges in the fatal shooting death of Negron.