New Haven Clergy Demand Firing Of Officers After Release Of Body Cam Video | Connecticut Public Radio
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New Haven Clergy Demand Firing Of Officers After Release Of Body Cam Video

Apr 24, 2019

New Haven religious leaders called for the immediate termination of the police officers involved in a shooting last week that injured an unarmed woman. 

“They must go today,” declared Rev. Boise Kimber at a gathering at the First Calvary Baptist church where he is the pastor. Kimber stood with a group of clergy members as he read from a list of procedures that he said were violated by Hamden police officer Devin Eaton and Yale officer Terrance Pollock.

This follows Tuesday’s release, by the state’s attorney’s office, of the body cam footage from the incident. It revealed that neither officer activated his body camera until after the shooting. Only a limited amount of recall footage was captured by Eaton’s device.

“We do not need to wait until the state’s attorney, Patrick Griffin, finishes his investigation,” Kimber said. “They have violated every protocol of their department. And we are asking Hamden, we’re asking Yale, as of this day, this time, this hour to terminate those two officers to bring some relief to our community.”

State police said 22-year-old Stephanie Washington, who was shot and injured, and 21-year-old Paul Witherspoon were unarmed when the officers fired a total of 16 shots at their car.

State Police Commissioner James Rovella said during Tuesday’s news conference that the officers’ body and dash cam use was inconsistent with state statute and recommended policy and procedure. Responding to numerous inquiries from the press about Hamden’s body and dash cam procedures, Hamden police outlined them in an email. It states that Hamden police vehicles are not equipped with dash cameras, but that all of their officers have been issued body cams. Officers are to activate the body cams at the inception of an interaction with the public in a law enforcement capacity, however “at no time shall police officers disregard officer safety or the safety of the public for the purpose of activating or utilizing the body-worn camera.”

But body cameras are only one aspect of the issues raised by the New Haven shooting. Pastor John Lewis said training is a priority going forward. They are pushing for urban trauma and de-escalation training for Hamden police and the surrounding community.

“Too often we want to do a six hour training or a training that lasts for two days and then it’s done,” said Lewis. “No. This kind of training helps develop relationships and that’s important because you won’t shoot somebody as quick if you’ve got a relationship with them.”

Lewis said the police and the community are at a pivotal point for change.