⏩ 11 charged after march on anniversary of cop-involved fatal shooting.
BRIDGEPORT — The 11 people arrested after a demonstration on the second anniversary of police fatally shooting a 15-year-old boy have been released, after each posted a $5,000 bond.
Meanwhile, police used prepared statements Friday to give their account of what happened Thursday night, including the detention of a Hearst Connecticut Media reporter, who was was handcuffed and taken to police department in a squad car after shooting video of the scene from the sidewalk on Fairfield Avenue.
In the video, journalist Tara O’Neill is heard identifying herself as a news reporter before she was taken into custody. She was later released without any charges.
Those who were charged — with inciting a riot, interfering with police and second-degree breach of peace — have arraignments scheduled in Superior Court in two weeks.
“All 11 of us are home safe. Thank y’all. I love y’all. We love y’all. I don’t got much words but power to the people,” Kerry Ellington, one of those arrested, posted on Facebook. “The system protects the local police collective bargaining agreement, the police union contracts, and the system values it over black and brown lives… The system needs to be held accountable on a local, statewide and federal level. On all levels. State sanctioned violence must end. It’s not OK.”
Jayson Negron was shot by Bridgeport Police Officer James Boulay on May 9, 2017, after a brief pursuit in a stolen vehicle, according to a report by Waterbury State’s Attorney Maureen Platt.
She said Negron had turned the wrong way down a one-way street and put the vehicle in reverse as Boulay approached and pulled open the driver’s side door. Platt said the door hit Boulay and he fired his gun into the vehicle, fatally shooting Negron and wounding his passenger.
Boulay was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing by Platt.
Police Chief Armando Perez did not immediately return calls for comment on Friday. Police released a summary of the incident report.
“At approximately 8:10 p.m. the remaining protesters at Walgreens became increasingly agitated and threw a bottle at officers on scene,” the report said. “Officers stayed in position and looked for recognizable Bridgeport community members who could assist in a dialogue. No one was visible. Another glass object was thrown at an officer, and the crowd remained agitated and yelling obscenities at the police officers.
“For public safety purposes, BPD informed the unruly protesters that they had five minutes to disperse due to the unruly assembly,” the report continued. “The crowd did not comply and continued to be unruly and grew louder. Officers moved in fairly quickly to maintain safety and detained 12 individuals. All of the individuals detained we arrested because they did not comply or disperse.
“While at BPD headquarters, an arresting officer was advised that one of the detainees was a member of the press. The reporter, wearing plain street clothes and no clearly visible identifying markers other than an ID name badge, was released without a summons, as she was not part of the organizers,” the summary continued.
Arrested were Kerry Ellington, of New Haven; Thomas Bostian, of New Haven Britney Brevard, of New Haven; Jenna Fu, of Bridgeport; Kiana McDavid, of Hartford; Sam Morbidelli, of New Haven; Kacey Perkins, of Fairfield; Sarah Pimenta, of Milford; Brenna Regan, of Fairfield; Maria Sandoval, of New Haven, and Michael Merli, of Bridgeport.
The Connecticut Daily Newspapers Association condemned O’Neill’s detention.
“The CDNA and its member papers across the state place its full support in Tara O’Neill and CDNA Member, Hearst Connecticut Media,” said Chris VanDeHoef, the organization’s executive director. “Arresting a reporter who is covering a public protest, on a public sidewalk, shows a blatant disregard for the First Amendment. The city of Bridgeport Police Department needs to evaluate how it trains its officers on interacting with a working reporter while on duty. Arresting a working reporter for covering police actions has a chilling effect on the First Amendment. We praise Ms. O’Neill and her dogged reporting and hope the City of Bridgeport works harder to appreciate our nation’s First Amendment Rights.”
Bruno Matarazzo, president of the Connecticut chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, issued the following statement:
“The fact that Bridgeport police found it appropriate to arrest a reporter is disturbing. Tara O’Neill was reporting on Thursday’s protest to write a news story. She was not a participant, and identified herself as a reporter when an officer handcuffed her. The fact that someone can be arrested in Bridgeport for the lawful exercise of a First Amendment right is chilling.”