New Haven Police Release New Body Cam Footage Of Shooting That Led To 6 Days Of Protests
Connecticut police released footage and 911 audio Tuesday of an April 16 officer-involved shooting in New Haven that led to six straight days of protests.
Initial footage of the shooting obtained by WFSB Eyewitness News shows Hamden Police Officer Devin Eaton pulling over a red Honda Civic, exiting his police SUV and, seconds later, shooting at the Honda and injuring a 22-year-old female, Stephanie Washington.
New footage from Eaton’s body cam shows the driver, Paul Witherspoon III, exiting his vehicle almost immediately after being pulled over without orders to do so. Eaton’s camera was turned on only seconds after the shooting began, but a recall function was used to gain access to footage from seconds before the record button was hit.
“This is unheard of that we’re putting [body cam footage] out so quickly,” said Connecticut State Police Commissioner James Rovella. “What’s important is transparency and trust.” (RELATED: Two 22-Year-Old Female Police Officers Shot And Killed Within Two Days)
A second officer, Yale Officer Terrance Pollock, who was called to the scene did not have his camera turned on at all, which is against Connecticut’s Police Officer Standards and Training Council guidelines, according to NBC News.
Eaton and Yale Officer Terrance Pollock were responding to a 911 call falsely reporting that the person driving the red Honda, Paul Witherspoon III, had a gun.
Both officers, as NBC News points out, are black. A statement from Yale University reads:
On the morning of April 16, a Yale police officer patrolling campus in the Science Park area responded to a call to assist a Hamden police officer. The Hamden police officer appears to have been looking for a vehicle based on a 911 call reporting that a person driving the vehicle had a gun. The Yale police officer who responded is Terrance Pollock, a 16-year veteran of the department.
Tragically, the police response resulted in a woman, who was a passenger in the vehicle, being shot. She was transported to Yale–New Haven hospital for treatment. Fortunately, her injury was not life-threatening.
In the footage released today, Eaton can be seen running to the other side of Witherspoon’s vehicle and firing several rounds at the passenger window after Witherspoon opens the driver-side door. (RELATED: Man Pulls Gun Outside Oregon School, Police Shoot Him Dead)
Some activists who took part in the protests following the shooting said the shooting is another example of black Americans being unfairly targeted by police officers, according to CBS Eyewitness News. Hundreds of protesters held signs reading, “Black Lives Matter,” “justice now” and “stand up to racism.”
But Witherspoon’s uncle, Rodney Williams, had a different take on the issue, saying the problem isn’t with race in this case but in policing and police training. “We need to really look at what’s really going on with the police — really look at how police look at residents. Period. And [the] police can be black, white, Puerto Rican — it’s just a police issue. They need to respect us as human beings, and I feel like they really don’t.
Witherspoon’s attorney, Michael Dolan, said the new body cam footage “supports our claim that he wasn’t doing anything wrong and that the police officers acted inappropriately and it would appear with at least reckless abandon.”
Hamden resident James Atwell told NBC News said police culture must change. “I can see who they were protecting, but who were they serving?” he asked.
Eaton and Pollock are currently on administrative leave.