Three fatal shootings by police officers in Connecticut have occurred in the early weeks of 2020. In light of these incidents, State Sen. Gary Winfield said lawmakers have an opportunity to address police use of force in the upcoming legislative session.
“Whether we ultimately can come up with a bill or not, we’re going to be having a conversation about what that is -- about the mental health issue, about the inability for police to recognize apparently that some of the people they’re interacting with have a mental health issue,” said Winfield, speaking at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on Wednesday.
Winfield and other lawmakers addressed police accountability last year, passing a bill requiring more transparency from police departments in use-of-force incidents.
That legislative action followed two April 2019 police shootings that resulted in the death of an 18-year-old in Wethersfield and the hospitalization of a 22-year-old New Haven woman.
In the first three weeks of 2020, incidents in Ansonia, West Haven and Waterbury have led to the deaths of Michael Gregory, 30, Mubarak Soulemane, 19, and Edward Gendron, 57.
Winfield said last year’s action moved “the ball down the road” on police use of force against people from what he called “vulnerable populations,” but he believes more can be done.
“This state needs to figure this out,” Winfield said.
“This population is vulnerable because they walk around in certain skin or because they have certain mental health conditions -- they’re vulnerable just because of who they are -- whether they’ve done something or not.”