Acting chief: Bridgeport police officer shot suspect to stop 'violent attack'

BRIDGEPORT — An officer with the city’s police force for nearly a decade shot a suspect allegedly assaulting another individual early Wednesday morning, according to police officials.

During an 11:45 a.m. press conference at the police memorial, Acting Police Chief Rebeca Garcia said Bridgeport police responded to the 300 block of Clinton Avenue around 1:10 a.m.

Upon arrival, officers found the alleged suspect — identified as 27-year-old Juan Villa — “making stabbing motions toward the victim,” Garcia said.

The officers — identified by Garcia as Eliud Henry and Sean Curran — deployed a Taser to “interrupt the assault,” Garcia said, but it didn’t work. She said that’s when Henry, who joined the force in 2011, shot the suspect once.

“The suspect was shot one time by the officer in an attempt to stop the violent attack against the victim,” Garcia said.

Curran, who joined the department in 2016, did not fire his weapon.

Once the victim was removed from the situation, the officers turned to the suspect, “who then became combative with the officer,” Garcia said. Medics took Villa to the hospital, where he underwent surgery.

Villa was shot once in the upper right side. Garcia said the wound was not life-threatening and he was in serious condition in the hospital.

Villa has not been charged pending an investigation, Garcia said.

Garcia also said the victim of the alleged assault thanked the officers for “saving his life.”

“I want the community to know that the officer involved in this incident acted heroically to save the life of another,” Brad Seeley, president of the Bridgeport police union, said in a statement. “As the investigation unfolds, it’s important that we stand behind our police officers who are protecting our neighborhoods.”

As is standard practice when a weapon is discharged, Henry and Curran were each put on administrative leave with pay pending an investigation by the state police, which will be overseen by the Stamford State’s Attorney.

“It’s one of the most difficult things an officer can face,” Garcia said of an officer-involved shooting.

Capt. Brian Fitzgerald, who oversees the department’s Detective Bureau, said his division is only acting as a liaison to state police at this point in the investigation, providing internal or personnel records and helping download body camera footage.

Connecticut State Police Trooper Josue Dorelus said body camera footage of the incident will be released “as soon as practically possible.”

This is the second officer-involved shooting in Connecticut in less than a week.

In Naugatuck, police said Sgt. Nicholas Kehoss discharged his duty weapon on Monday after the driver of a vehicle pulled over on a traffic stop apparently drove at the officer. Another officer, Kevin Zainc, was identified as having been at the incident. He did not fire his gun.

The driver who allegedly drove the vehicle at the sergeant was identified by police as 24-year-old Waterbury resident Roznovsky Antonio Machado. He fled the incident and remained at large as of Wednesday morning.