Religious leaders in Bridgeport want transparency in investigation of cop fatally shooting teen

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BRIDGEPORT --  There are still no answers as to why 15-year-old Jayson Negron was shot to death by Bridgeport police over three weeks ago. And, some clergy from the community expressed their impatience.

Community outrage grew when a cellphone video of a dying Negron, handcuffed and on public display after being shot, hit the internet shortly after the May 9 shooting, near the intersection of Fairfield Ave. and Park Ave.

"I saw the video once," said Jazmarie Melendez, the sister of Negron. "That was it. And I didn't want to see it ever again."

Family and friends joined clergy Friday at the scene of the shooting.

"Only a transparent and timely investigation of the shooting will build the confidence needed for better community, police and city government relationship," said Rev. Anthony Bennett of Bridgeport's Mount Aery Baptist Church.

Bridgeport police said rookie officer James Boulay shot and killed Negron after the teen nearly ran him over in a stolen car.

"In September 2015, then candidate for Mayor, Joseph Ganim, agreed to implement de-escalation and cultural awareness training in the police department, but yet we still do not have them ," said Rev. Bernadette Hickman-Maynard of the Bethel AME Church of Bridgeport.

Hickman-Maynard noted that, according to policies and procedures of the Bridgeport police department, officer trainees spend only 14 out of 871 hours – less than two percent of their training time, being educated on the laws and policies that permit use of force.

"They are not taught how can I de-escalate a situation using less and less force," she said.

A spokesperson from Ganim and Police Chief A.J. Perez refused comment.

"I think that, right now, it almost seems like there's a cover-up occurring," said Melendez, who said her brother's deadly encounter with cops was the only time he's ever been in trouble with the law.

The organizers of this event said the easiest way to become transparent is to release the results of what's on surveillance video around the scene.

"Does Walgreens' video footage exist," said Matt McDermott, the Lead Organizer for the Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut (CONECT). "Is it relevant? If it's relevant, release it. Or, if not, why not?

The clergy remains hopeful that talkw of police body and dash cams will soon be rekindled. It stalled recently over the cost of data storage. But, Rev. Cass Shaw, a member of the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport, said the storage cost "cannot compare with the positive value of getting these cameras in use, coupled with solid training and doing it now."

Shaw also cited a study conducted by the University of South Florida and the Orlando Police Department.

"They discovered that body cameras reduced the number of times that police officer's used force by 53 percent," she said.

And, it dropped the number of complaints against officers by 65 percent.

"We (CONECT) believe that reduced complaints and reduced use of force will very likely more than make up for the cost of storing data," Shaw said.

The Waterbury State's Attorney's office, which will determine whether to prosecute any officers upon the completion of the investigation, has not responded to FOX61's request for comment.