New Haven, CT – Protesters have taken to the streets near Yale University after two police officers opened fire on a suspect vehicle and wounded a woman who turned out to be unarmed (video below).
The incident occurred at about 4:16 a.m. on April 16 after Hamden police responded to an armed robbery at the Gas and Go on Arch Street, the New Haven Register reported.
Hamden Police Officer Devin Eaton called for assistance and received backup from nearby Yale University Police Officer Terrance Pollack.
Shortly thereafter, the officers identified what they believed to be the suspect vehicle at Argyle Street and Dixwell Avenue in New Haven, the New Haven Register reported.
Connecticut State Police Trooper Josue Delorus told reporters at a press conference that the driver of the suspect vehicle failed to comply with instructions to exit the vehicle with his hands up, and instead “exited the vehicle in an abrupt manner.”
Surveillance video from the scene showed Officer Eaton stopping his police car just past the suspect vehicle and getting out with his weapon drawn.
He quickly dashed behind the suspect vehicle as if to take cover and then opened fire on the passenger’s side of the vehicle, the video showed.
In the video, Officer Eaton continued firing as he ran further away from the suspect vehicle.
The driver – later identified as 21-year-old Paul Witherspoon – cannot be seen in the surveillance video.
A second surveillance video that was released on Saturday showed Officer Pollack pulling up near the front of the suspect vehicle.
In the video, Officer Pollack jumped out of his police SUV with his weapon drawn and began shooting in the direction of the vehicle a second later.
The officer jumped out so far, he failed to put his vehicle in park and the SUV continued rolling until it hit the suspect vehicle.
Witherspoon was not injured during the incident, but his 22-year-old girlfriend, Stephanie Washington, was wounded by gunfire, the New Haven Register reported.
Washington was transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Police said she remains hospitalized in stable condition, according to WTNH.
No weapons were found in the suspect vehicle, according to the New Haven Register.
Officer Pollack, a 16-year veteran of the Yale police, was wounded during the incident, WTNH reported.
It wasn’t yet known if he was hit by a ricochet of one of his own bullets or if he was grazed by a bullet fired by Officer Eaton.
Officer Pollack was transported to the hospital where he was treated and released, WTNH reported.
Officer Eaton is a three-year veteran of the Hamden police who had previously served two years on the New Haven police force, according to the New Haven Register.
No New Haven police officers were involved in the incident which took place in their jurisdiction, close to the line with Hamden.
Hundreds of students, community members, and Black Lives Matter activists took to the streets to protest the shooting in the days that followed.
The Reverend Boise Kimber of First Cavalry Baptist Church told the New Haven Register he was outraged and wanted to know why the Hamden police officer had crossed into another jurisdiction without notifying the New Haven Police Department.
It's not common practice for law enforcement officers in the U.S. to notify other agencies when they enter their jurisdiction.
“We come today to say that we’re certainly going to be watching this incident, on top of this incident and praying that this family, this young lady, certainly recover — a terrible incident,” Kimber said. “It is sad. It is upsetting; it is hurtful to see that kind of shooting taking place when no one shot at them, no one tried to run, there are no guns in the car — I mean, what is this?”
He said that a meeting had taken place after the incident and Hamden police agreed to create a written policy that will require its officers to notify New Haven police when they cross into their jurisdiction, the New Haven Register reported.
Hamden Acting Police Chief John Cappiello would not comment on why Officer Eaton was in New Haven, but said that his department’s internal affairs division would be conducting an investigation.
Protesters and activists have demanded that police release bodycam video from the incident.
Initially, Hamden police said that State’s Attorney Patrick Griffin had asked them not to release the video, the New Haven Register reported.
But the plan changed in the wake of demonstrations and authorities have announced that bodycam video will be released soon.
Watch both surveillance videos, which show the officers’ actions separately, here below (multiple videos, scroll down for more):