Mother of Unarmed Man Shot At By Hamden, Yale Police Speaks Out

‘This is life-changing for those kids,’ Keisha Greene said at news conference by the scene of the police shooting from nearly two weeks ago in New Haven.

Tuesday will mark two weeks since the police shooting in New Haven that has sparked days of demonstrations in the Elm City, at Yale University and in the neighboring town of Hamden.

Hamden Officer Devin Eaton and Yale Officer Terrance Pollock remain on paid leave during the investigation by Connecticut State Police and the New Haven State's Attorney as to whether either officer will face charges.

Paul Witherspoon did not get shot as he is seen in surveillance and body camera video exiting the driver's seat as the Hamden officer starts shooting. Stephanie Washington was struck by the gunfire in the passenger seat.

"This is life-changing for those kids," Witherspoon's mother Keisha Greene said Monday morning at a press conference by the Dixwell-Argyle intersection in New Haven where the shooting took place.

Greene said the two officers who shot at her son and his girlfriend should be fired and prosecuted, but she spoke about the need for more meaningful change in her community.

"I always had this fear and this worry with recent things going on you know within last 10 years," she said. "I've always had this worry but never thought it would happen to me."

Greene said she doesn't believe the two officers should be allowed to serve in law enforcement.

"I would also like to see them stripped of any type of way to get another civil service job anywhere else," Greene said. "I don't think they should be able to police officers anywhere else, because wherever they go to me they're a liability."

Police officers in places like New Haven and Hamden need to make a better effort to understand the communities they sign up to serve, Greene said.

"It's an inner city, maybe these people have this fear of the community," Greene said, "but if you fear the community don't work here, if you don't want to get to know the residents, don't come here."

Court documents related to the search of the red car said Witherspoon told investigators that he was instructed to get out of the car and show his hands. 

The investigation so far has confirmed that Witherspoon was not armed, despite the report of an attempted armed robbery at a Hamden call station. The clerk told police he never saw Witherspoon with a firearm, contradicting his original 911 call that led police to go looking for the car driven by Witherspoon.

"My nephew didn't shoot nobody, he got out with his hands up and they tried to kill him," Witherspoon's uncle Rodney Williams said.

Both Williams and Greene said their neighborhood needs improved education, recreational and job opportunities.

"This place used to be a pool hall when I was younger," Williams said, referring to the business that owns the surveillance cameras that recorded the police shooting. "When I grew up in this community we had after school programs, we had schools open up for basketball, we had game rooms at Jackie Robinson (school). Right now we have schools that are closed after school and we got churches in our community that are closed, too."

After surviving the police shooting, Greene said her son is doing the best he can.

"It's like every day reliving it so you can kinda never try to process it but I think as time goes by he'll be OK," Greene said.

Hamden Police have opened their own investigation into the shooting with the help of an outside professional expert focused on use of force allegations, Hamden Mayor Curt Leng announced Friday.

Greene said she appreciated the chance to speak with Leng, and Williams has met with Yale University President Peter Salovey. 

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