Wants City Officials, Police To Work Closely With Residents
May 13, 2005
By STEPHANIE REITZ, Courant Staff Writer
A coalition of area
clergy members pleaded Thursday for a halt to the violence in
Hartford, calling for city officials and police to work more
closely with residents to transform troubled neighborhoods.
Specifically, the Interdenominational
Ministerial Alliance wants more residents added to key review
boards, residents and police to rejuvenate their joint task
force, assurance that a proposed "community
summit" will come to fruition, and other steps.
Several members of the ministerial alliance gathered Thursday
on Main Street in the city's North End to express concern about
several recent homicides, and about the May 7 shooting in which
a city teenager was shot by an officer.
Jashon Bryant, 18, received a fatal gunshot wound to the back
of his head when Hartford police Officer Robert Lawlor fired
into the car in which Bryant was a passenger. The car's driver,
21-year-old Brandon Henry of Hartford, was struck once in the
chest during the incident at Main and Sanford streets.
Members of the ministerial
alliance called for a thorough and intensive investigation,
and asked city residents Thursday to "make
sure that our responses, though extremely passionate, be also
measured and reasoned," according to a written statement.
Lawlor's attorney has said
the officer used "reasonable
and necessary force" when he fired at the car because he
thought he saw Bryant reach for a gun. The attorney, Michael
Georgetti, also said Henry had put the vehicle into gear and
was driving toward Lawlor's partner, federal agent Dan Prather.
No gun was found in the car.
Bryant's funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. today at Mount Calvary
Baptist Church in Hartford. His family and city activists will
hold a rally about 2 p.m. in his memory in the parking lot at
Main and Sanford streets.
Hartford State's Attorney
James Thomas is supervising the Hartford Police Department's
investigation into the fatal shooting, and Hartford police
Chief Patrick J. Harnett on Thursday asked for community members
to "reserve judgment while a thorough
and complete investigation is conducted."
Members of the ministerial alliance recently discussed that
shooting and other deaths when meeting with Mayor Eddie A. Perez,
representatives from the police department, and some of the families
of the recent homicide victims, said the Rev. Alvan Johnson,
a member of the alliance.
In addition to the proposed community summit and rejuvenation
of the community/police task force, alliance members want more
residents added to the city's civilian review board and the police
department's firearms discharge board of inquiry.
They also want residents to have access to talk with members
of the Office of the Chief State's Attorney about important city
matters and incidents; more diversity on the Hartford Police
Department so it better reflects the city's demographics; and
widespread distribution of a 1973 consent decree that required
Hartford to take steps to be more accountable and responsive
Perez joined John DeStefano Jr. and John Fabrizi - mayors of
New Haven and Bridgeport, respectively - on Thursday to ask state
officials for more sustained help in city police efforts, including
undercover operations to take guns and drugs off the streets.
They recently sent a joint letter to Gov. M. Jodi Rell, saying
their cities had made progress in reducing crime over the past
decade, but that they need more long-term help rather than only
Courant Staff Writer Matt Burgard contributed to this report.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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