Community leaders and law enforcement officials this week pleaded for a peace and patience as the Bowdoin St. area continued to reel from the recent deaths of two local teens.
Standing with local elected officials, clergy and Cape Verdean community leaders, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said his office’s investigation into the April 3 death of 19-year-old Manuel “Junior” DaVeiga would be thorough and detailed, as well as “very careful, very deliberative.” The media would be able to review the file after the investigation was complete, he said.
“When we’re done you’ll be satisfied with the conclusions we will draw,” Conley said outside St. Peter’s church on Bowdoin St.
A preliminary investigation by Conley’s office has found that DaVeiga shot himself after he exchanged gunfire with police in pursuit of him in the Navillus Terrace. area. The police were patrolling the area in part because of last month’s shooting of Andrew Tavares, a friend of DaVeiga.
The preliminary determination that DaVeiga shot himself has been met with some disbelief among his friends and others, community leaders say, leading to some tension in the neighborhood between youngsters and police officers. ‘“It’s difficult for the community to believe,” said John Barros, head of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative.
Barros and others at the press conference outside the church called for the community’s youth to work with police to get to the truth of the shootings. “We can’t channel our anger into something destructive,” he said. “That’s a very important message.”
He added: “It can’t be about turning the gun on anyone.”
Rev. Jack Ahern, the pastor of St. Peter’s and two other Dorchester parishes, said community service providers were offering programs for children to cope with the deaths as well as helping them get answers to questions about the police. “If they have questions, they can ask questions,” said Ahern.
“The people who’ve worked with the police are ready to give the benefit of the doubt and get the facts,” said state Rep. Marie St. Fleur (D-Uphams Corner), who attended the press conference with Mayor Thomas Menino, state Sen. Jack Hart (D-South Boston), District Councillor Charles Yancey, and City Councillors At-Large Felix Arroyo and Ayanna Pressley.
“These officers have children just as we do,” St. Fleur said.
Rev. Jeffrey Brown, the head of the city’s Ten Point Coalition, an anti-violence group, called on community members to “embrace the truth of what happened that night.” “We need to get to the bottom of what happened,” he said, adding that the investigation needed time to play out.
The Monday press conference came after community leaders, teens and law enforcement officials met for several hours on Sunday. Barros said the Boston Police Department assured the crowd that the department would investigate any claims of wrongdoing by any police officers. “The community heard that,” he said.
Conley said there was no set timeline for wrapping up the report. “We don’t investigate by the clock,” he said, adding, “We only have one shot at getting this right.”
For more on this issue, see this report from Neighborhood Network News, which aired on April 15, 2010: