LONGWOOD — A day after Mayor Michael Bloomberg cited the fatal shooting of a Bronx teen in a fiery speech that warned of the dangers of restricting police powers, he called the boy’s mother to express his sympathy.
“It was comforting,” Jenaii Van Doten, 46, said of the mayor's Wednesday call. “He sent his condolences and sincere apologies.”
Van Doten was doing laundry Wednesday when the mayor called her, she said. He did not venture into “political talk” about the police or the media, she added.
A spokesman for the mayor said the office tried to reach Van Doten Tuesday before the speech, but had been unable.
Van Doten's son, 17-year-old Alphonza Bryant III, was shot to death on April 22 by two men who police believe were gang members who mistook Alphonza for a rival. Alphonza was not connected to any gang, sources said.
Bloomberg unexpectedly referenced the shooting during an attention-grabbing speech at police headquarters Tuesday, where he vigorously defended the Police Department, including its use of stop-and-frisk.
He charged that supporting a bill to create an independent NYPD inspector general is “courting disaster” and that ending stop-and-frisk means “more people will be killed.”
He also criticized news organizations — in particular, The New York Times — that had published editorials about stop-and-frisk but not the news of Alphonza's murder.
A Times spokeswoman said Tuesday that the paper “aggressively covers violence in the city's neighborhoods” and called the mayor’s criticism “disingenuous.”
After last week’s shooting, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott visited Urban Assembly Bronx Studio for Writers and Artists, where Alphonza was a senior, to “pay his respects” to Van Doten and Alphonza’s “school family,” a DOE spokeswoman said.
Alphonza was known for his charm and humor, as well as his formidable collection of designer clothes and dozens of shoes that his mother helped him amass.
He was recently fitted for a prom tuxedo and had enrolled in a community college. He had hoped to earn his driver’s license before his 18th birthday in August.