NAACP, Bryant Family Call for Federal Investigation

By Lauren Petty
|  Tuesday, Dec 15, 2009  |  Updated 11:30 PM EDT
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NAACP, Bryant Family Call for Federal Investigation

Former Hartford police officer Robert Lawlor was acquitted of manslaughter in the shooting death of Jashon Bryant.

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On the steps of the federal building in Hartford, leaders of the NAACP joined members of Jashon Bryant's family Tuesday afternoon for a news conference calling for a federal investigation into Bryant's death.

The Connecticut Conference of the NAACP sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, asking for a federal review of the case.
 
Bryant, 18, was shot and killed in May 2005 by former Hartford Police Officer Robert Lawlor.
 
Lawlor claimed he saw Bryant with a gun and shot Bryant twice in the head.  Byrant was a passenger in a car that was driving toward an FBI agent that Lawlor was working with. No gun was ever found.                                                                                                                                                                         
 
Lawlor was charged with manslaughter in Bryant's death but was acquitted on December 8, by an all-white jury.
 
The acquittal prompted NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile to write a letter to Attorney General Holder.
 
"There's an extreme message sent to the community that an officer has the green light of killing people in that community," said Esdaile.
 
Esdaile said he felt the entire North End of Hartford, where the shooting occurred, was put on trial and that the community feels it's been wronged.
 
The increased tension and unrest prompted Esdaile to ask for the Department of Justice Community Renewal Service to intervene to help keep the peace.
 
Keith Thomas, Bryant's father, said he spoke to a kid who wanted to retaliate against police after the verdict came down.
 
"When you got to talk to a kid that's riding around with a gun and talking about killing a police officer, you got to talk to that brother," Thomas said. "I told him violence ain't the way."

In the letter, the NAACP requested an immediate meeting with a Justice Department official.

The Department of Justice says a civil rights investigation into the Bryant case in ongoing.

Bryant's family said Tuesday that a civil suit was filed in federal court, sometime before the verdict came down in the criminal case.

In its news conference, Tuesday the NAACP called on the City of Hartford to settle the civil suit quickly.

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