Officers In New Haven Shooting Failed To Activate Cameras | Connecticut Public Radio

Officers In New Haven Shooting Failed To Activate Cameras

Apr 23, 2019

The state's attorneys office says 16 shots were fired in total during an incident in New Haven last week when a woman was injured by police officers. But there's not much camera footage of the encounter, because the officers -- one from Hamden and one from Yale, failed to follow protocol. 

The Yale officer's dashboard camera was never turned on, and his body camera was turned on only after the incident. The Hamden officer also activated his body camera after the shooting, but some footage was recovered.

State Police Commissioner James Rovella said the body and dash cam usage was inconsistent with state statute and recommended policy and procedure.

“In a perfect world without all those stressers, yes he should have turned it on much sooner," he said of Hamden officer Devin Easton. "When he turned it on he was on the sidewalk someplace, running down the street, looking for cover. In a perfect world without those stressers - boy - that’s a tough situation to be in."

Investigators say the Hamden officer fired 13 shots, while the Yale officer fired three.

No weapons were found at the scene or in the car.

The shooting sparked daily protests in Hamden and New Haven with activists calling for the firing of both officers involved — Hamden officer Devin Eaton, and Yale officer Terrance Pollock, and the release of all body and dash cam footage.

Stephanie Washington, 22, was a passenger in the car when she was shot and injured while police were firing at the driver, Paul Witherspoon, who was not hurt. Witherspoon was taken into custody and later released.

Rodney Williams, Witherspoon’s uncle, attended the news conference. He said he feels confident the two officers will be fired eventually.

Rodney Williams, Witherspoon’s uncle, records the news conference on his phone.
Credit Ryan Lindsay / Connecticut Public Radio

“When you do stuff like that, it should be -- immediately -- ‘you’re fired,'” Williams said. “No administrative leave. Give me your gun, you’re outta here. And you can sue me for wrongful termination, but based on what they did they should have just been fired.”

Witherspoon’s attorney Michael Dolan said they’re conducting a separate investigation and will be filing a claim shortly.

“My client didn’t have a gun,” Dolan said. The police were overly aggressive. They were reckless. I can tell you that the family is very troubled, as is the entire community, by the way that these police officers acted.”

Rovella said the investigation is ongoing and could take two to three months to complete. He said he has concerns about many different aspects of how the case was handled from inception to completion.

“Those are things I’ll be talking over with the post council,” Rovella said. The release of the footage, along with the 911 call about a reported robbery, came one week after the shooting. Rovella called the quick release of that evidence unheard of. He said New Haven State’s Attorney Patrick Griffin is concerned about transparency, trust, and integrity in the community.