The driver of stolen car was shot and killed by a Bridgeport police officer following a chase and a confrontation Tuesday night.
Photo credit: Bridgeport Police Department
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — The driver of stolen car was shot and killed by a Bridgeport police officer following a chase and a confrontation Tuesday night, state police said. Protests were planned for Wednesday night.
Officers tried to stop the car on Park Avenue about 5 p.m., but the driver kept going, leading the officers on a brief chase, traveling the wrong way on Fairfield Avenue and hitting several other cars, state police said.
The car stopped, and as officers approached and tried to take the driver into custody, the driver sped in reverse and hit one of the officers, pinning him beneath the car, police officials said. A second officer opened fire, hitting both the driver and a front-seat passenger were hit, state police said. They did not say how many rounds were fired.
The driver was pronounced dead at the scene, and the passenger suffered non-life threatening injures and was taken to a hospital, police said.
The driver has not been identified, but officials have referred to him as a young person.
Both officers were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, state police said.
“What happened yesterday is the police officers ultimate nightmare,” city Police Chief Armando Perez said in an afternoon press conference. “No one puts on this uniform and hopes this will happen.”
Western District Major Crime Squad detectives responded at the request of the Chief State’s Attorney’s office and took over the investigation. Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane has also assigned Waterbury State’s Attorney Maureen Platt to conduct a use of force investigation.
“While I support the Bridgeport police department officers, we are depending on the state’s attorney and the state police to conduct an open investigation and resolve this matter,” Perez said.
An autopsy of the driver will be conducted by the office of the chief medical examiner.
Though the investigation is in early stages, Perez voiced support for the officers.
“Based on all the information that I have received — and I’ve received nothing to dissuade me — our officers acted within the guidelines of the law and department policy,” Perez said.
The scene was turned over to the state police and the state’s attorney, Perez said, and Bridgeport officers remained just to keep it secure.
Some spoke of the body being left out uncovered for a number of hours after the shooting. Perez said that, though he wanted it covered, evidence needs to be preserved.
“It bothers me, as I know it bothers people here…. to have a body of a deceased young person, someones child, remain out and open for six hours or seven hours I’ve heard,” Mayor Joe Ganim said. “It’s unacceptable from a community perspective.”
During the press conference, Ganim asked state police to readily release information as it becomes available.
Absent an official identification, rumors were going around the Stratford school system that the driver killed in the crash was a student, officials said.
“The driver of the vehicle that was shot the students believe is one of our students,” Superintendent Janet Robinson said. “I have no confirmation.”
She said she sent a note out to parents that this was rumor was going around the school system to make them aware that their child might have heard it.
Crisis intervention teams were also in place, she said.
“Whether it turns out to be a student or not we have students who believe it is,” Robinson said. “We have students that are grieving so we need to provide them help with that.”
Not long after the shooting, protesters from several towns gathered at the scene.
At about 10:30 p.m., Bishop John Selders of Hartford said there were at least 35 people protesting at the scene in the belief that the man who was shot was unarmed.
Another rally was planned at 6 p.m. near the scene of the crime.
At the afternoon press conference, a number of local clergy and community leaders spoke of a need to work together as one community to prevent anything like this from happening again in the future.
This is the second time an officer shot a teen in the city in recent weeks. In late March, 18-year-old Austin Carr was shot during an altercation with detectives and two armed suspects.
State police are also handling that investigation. They never identified the officers involved.
Following Tuesday night’s shooting, David McGuire, the executive director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut released a statement calling for authorities and lawmakers to come together for meaningful police reform.
“Police have killed another person in Connecticut, and another community is struggling to receive answers about what happened. How many people have to die or be seriously injured at the hands of law enforcement before Connecticut strengthens its laws to hold police accountable to the communities they are supposed to serve?,” McGuire said.
“The Bridgeport community deserves a swift, thorough, and transparent account of what happened and an equally comprehensive and independent investigation,” he said. “None of the answers provided by that investigation will bring back the life lost last night, but our state must find a solution to prevent this from happening again.”
Courant Staff Writer Rebecca Lurye contributed to this story.
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SOURCE: THE HARTFORD COURANT (HARTFORD, CONN.) & OFFICER.COM