Protests erupted in several Connecticut communities Friday, April 19 after police officers opened fire on an unarmed Black couple sitting in their car.
On April 16, 22-year-old Stephanie Washington was sitting with her boyfriend, Paul Witherspoon, in a car when two officers began shooting into the car, reported the Associated Press.
In surveillance footage from the incident, Hamden Police Officer Devin Eaton jumps out of his patrol car and immediately unloads his weapon into the red Honda. According to police, the car matched the description of another vehicle involved in an armed robbery.
Also involved in the shooting was Terrance Pollock of the Yale University Police Department. While Eaton fired into the car from one side, Pollock fires his weapon from the other side before sprinting away from the scene.
Washington was immediately taken to a hospital and treated for her injuries. She is expected to survive. Witherspoon, who was not injured in the shooting, told reporters the shooting was something he’ll never forget.
"I've heard gunshots before but it's a different feeling when somebody's shooting at you... when the police are shooting at you," Witherspoon said.
Police said the officers opened fire because the driver of the car made an abrupt movement and ignored commands from officers. The officers found no weapons inside the car.
New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said this incident hurts the relationship between the police and residents of Hamden and New Haven.
"This incident betrays police activity gone horribly wrong along the Hamden-New Haven line and now Stephanie, as well as many residents, her family, her friends, must live with the consequences and resulting uncertainty of what was by every definition an unacceptable response," New Haven Mayor Toni Harp told the Associated Press.
Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner James Rovella asked the community for "a little patience" before the department releases the body cam footage from the shooting.
"The integrity of the investigation, fair treatment for the individuals in the vehicle, officers involved and transparency is paramount in these types of investigations," Rovella said in a statement.
Since the shooting, students and Black Lives Matter demonstrators held protests in New Haven and Hamden. Police have not yet stated what, if any, disciplinary action will be taken against the officers, who are both Black.
(Photo: ABC 13)
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