Two police officers fired their weapons and shot a woman who was a passenger in a vehicle a mile from Yale University, setting off nearly a week of protests in New Haven.
Connecticut State Police said the incident began in Hamden, Connecticut, just after 4 a.m. on April 16 when police received a report of an attempted armed robbery of a newspaper delivery man at a gas station.
A Hamden police officer and a Yale police officer located what they said was the suspect’s vehicle in New Haven, about a mile from Yale, and initiated a stop of the vehicle, police said. Both officers then fired “numerous” rounds during that interaction, state police said.
Stephanie Washington, a 22-year-old passenger in the car, was shot and suffered injuries that were not life threatening. She was transported to Yale New Haven Hospital and is in stable condition, police said.
State police said 21-year-old Paul Witherspoon, who was the driver of the vehicle, was not injured during the shooting. He was taken to the Hamden Police Department. Neither was arrested, police said.
Police said they did not find a firearm in the vehicle, according to CNN affiliate WFSB. Connecticut State Trooper Josue Dorelus told WFSB that the officers opened fire after the driver exited the vehicle “in an abrupt manner.”
Since the shooting, New Haven has been the site of protests. Residents marched in the streets and called for police accountability in the shooting.
“Everyone is not a suspect. And that’s how people feel,” one resident, Kevin Walter, told CNN affiliate WTNH. “We just want the police, we want the chiefs, we want the elected officials to understand that and hear what the community is saying. We just want accountability.”
The Yale Police officer, Terrance Pollock, is a 16-year veteran of the department and has been placed on leave until the investigation is completed, the university said. The Hamden Police officer, identified as Devin Eaton, was also placed on immediate administrative leave pending the state’s investigation.
Body camera footage to be released
Surveillance video published by WFSB shows the moments that the officers fired on the car.
Hamden Police confirmed that their officers wear body cameras. Mayor Curt Balzano Leng said on Facebook that the state plans to release the body camera footage this week.
“I am so deeply sorry to the individuals who were involved that this ever occurred, and also very thankful that the healing has begun,” Leng said on Twitter. “We will do better. We must do better.”
Yale said it was fully cooperating in the investigation and was hopeful it will be resolved as quickly as possible.
Yale President Peter Salovey said the university will conduct its own investigation after the state police and State’s Attorney’s Office are finished. In the meantime, he said Yale will engage with other members of the New Haven community.
“Our relief that the young woman who was shot did not suffer life-threatening injuries must not signal closure, but rather an opening: now is the time for all of us – city residents, their elected leaders, community organizers, and the Yale community – to come together,” Salovey said.
“Many members of the Yale and New Haven communities have reached out to me to express their concern,” Salovey added. “I am grateful for your commitment to justice, and I share it. As we wait to learn more about this incident, let us treat each other with respect and decency, and with a sense of common purpose.”