Body Camera Video from Police Shooting in New Haven to Be Released This Week: State's Attorney

Six days after a Hamden and Yale officer opened fire on a car with two unarmed occupants, Hamden’s legislative council is holding a public “listening forum” on the incident and police-community relations

Hamden’s Legislative Council planned to have a public comment on last week’s officer-involved shooting in New Haven at a previously scheduled Monday night meeting.

“Given recent events, it's clear that public interest in the police department is about more than the budget right now,” said a post on the council’s Facebook page. “While the meeting is noticed to be a budget session, I think it is important that within the context of deliberating the Police Department budget we allow for community dialogue about policing in general.”

After nearly a week of demonstrations in Hamden and New Haven calling for justice, the New Haven state’s attorney’s office said Monday it has “authorized the release of body camera footage, which will be available this week.”

According to a release from State’s Attorney Pat Griffin’s staff, a New Haven Superior Court judge has signed off on a search warrant authorizing Connecticut State Police to examine the interior of the civilian car involved in the police shooting.

“I think it’s been the community’s reaction that we’re seeing action and leadership from the state’s attorney,” said Justin Farmer, the Democratic Hamden Legislative Council Majority Whip.

Farmer grew up in the neighborhood on the Hamden-New Haven line.

“I’m six houses from living in Newhallville where this took place,” he said, referring to the shooting last Tuesday morning at the intersection of Dixwell and Argyle in New Haven.

Over the weekend, NBC Connecticut obtained more surveillance video showing Yale Police officer Terrance Pollock getting out of his car and starting to shoot right away.

As Pollock runs across Dixwell Avenue in the video, his car, still moving, bumps into the front end of the red car driven by 21-year-old Paul Witherspoon.

The car’s passenger, 22-year-old Stephanie Washington, is recovering from a gunshot and her family is still asking for privacy.

Police said they were looking for a car involved in an attempted robbery, but Witherspoon’s attorney Michael Dolan denies that charge and said his client was not armed.

“The vehicle my client was in, the windows were rolled up,” Dolan told NBC Connecticut. “There was nothing they did. So I can’t explain why it escalated so quickly other than these officers weren’t properly trained.”

It is still not known which officer opened fire first, who shot Washington and how Pollock was injured in the incident.

Farmer said he has participated in several demonstrations since the shooting involving Hamden Officer Devin Eaton and Pollock. He told NBC Connecticut he has heard calls for a civilian police review board and for the community to have a say when selecting a permanent new police chief. Farmer also said he questions whether the town has too many police officers.

“We’re hiring people who aren’t trained or equipped to be in these positions than we have the police set up to fail and then we have ourselves set up to fail because if an officer messes up we all have to take responsibility,” Farmer said.

At Farmer’s legislative council desk, there is a candle in memory of Jayson Negron, the teen shot and killed by a Bridgeport police officer in May 2017.

“In Jayson’s case, he gunned down and left to bleed out,” Farmer recalled.

The Waterbury State’s attorney declined to press charges against Officer James Boulay after a lengthy investigation into the shooting.

State authorities did not release surveillance video showing the pursuit through a Wal Greens parking lot before the Bridgeport police shooting until the investigation wrapped up in January 2018.

Unlike the recent New Haven case, there was no body camera footage or video of the shooting that killed Negron.

NBC Connecticut will provide updates into Hamden and Yale police shooting in New Haven and to find out when state police release addition video and details from the investigation.

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