On May 9, 15-year-old Jayson Negron was fatally shot in the stomach by a police officer in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The Bridgeport Police Department claims that Negron, while driving a stolen vehicle, “accelerated in reverse and struck at least one Bridgeport Police Officer,” according to the Huffington Post. Negron was then allegedly shot by officer James Boulay, who has been placed on leave from the department.
Negron’s cousin, Giovanni Rivera, is now challenging that narrative.
Huffington Post reports that following the release of a witness video, Rivera is asserting that the police department’s allegations are false. The video, which Rivera shared on social media three days after the incident, shows Negron lying on the street face-down with this hands cuffed behind his back. It shows a police officer bend forward to touch the boy’s back.
“Jayson never hit an officer with the vehicle,” Rivera wrote in a tweet. “That was a lie and a cover up to try and justify his murder.”
The original police report of the incident says that Negron engaged in a “brief vehicle pursuit” while driving in the wrong direction and striking several vehicles. Negon eventually stopped his car, when he was approached by the officer. The report claims that he then accelerated in reverse and hit an officer. This is when the Bridgeport officer fired “at least one round from their duty weapon, striking both the operator and the front seat passenger.” According to Huffington Post, the 21-year-old passenger is expected to recover.
Huffington Post also reports that before the witness video was released, the police department falsely told Negon’s family that he had died from a gunshot to the head. Rivera told Hartford Current that this incorrect information is grounds to question the rest of the police report.
“If that crucial part of the story is a lie, everything else is up for question,” he said in the statement.
David McGuire, executive director of Connecticut’s ACLU, said in a statement that this video is evidence of the police officer’s disregard of Negron’s life, supporting Rivera’s claims of police brutality, according to Hartford Current.
“The callous disregard that Bridgeport police officers showed for Jayson Negron during his last moments of life is unacceptable,” he said. “Their behavior was outside the realms of human decency and democracy.”
Negron’s death adds to the list of 373 people killed by police so far in 2017, according to a Washington Post database. The interactive site also shows that 963 were shot in 2016. Many of these shootings have opened up a controversial and often uncomfortable dialogue about race and inequality in the United States. In 2015, for example, black families were an average of 13 times poorer than white families, and Latino families were 10 times poorer.
Many municipalities, such as Newark most recently, have been attempting to increase police accountability by installing police body cameras and dashboard cameras. Starting in 2013, the global market for dashboard cameras was valued at $1.45 billion. From there, it was predicted to grow at a 15.3% rate every year from 2013 to 2020. Likewise, police departments all over the country are experimenting with body cameras to improve trust between police officers and the communities they serve.
McGuire said in his statement that Bridgeport needs to up its own efforts to increase police responsibility and acknowledged the role that race has in their actions.
“The City of Bridgeport must immediately act to create true accountability, transparency, and respect for human life in the Bridgeport Police Department,” he said. “As a state, Connecticut must not make the mistake of believing that police excessive force and police accountability are simply Bridgeport problems, or pretend that racial disparities in policing do not exist.”
Rivera told Hartford Current that he will continue fighting for his cousin.
“You look at the crime compared to the consequence, it’s wrong,” he said. “He was a beautiful, beautiful kid and he had a bright future.”
While state police did not respond to their media requests, Hartford Current reports that state investigators have obtained the witness video.