Connecticut religious leaders want officers in shooting of unarmed woman fired

PHOTO: Surveillance video shows the police-involved shooting of an unarmed couple earlier this week in New Haven, Connecticut.PlayBIMEC/James Walker
WATCH Connecticut religious leaders want officers in shooting of unarmed woman fired

Religious leaders in New Haven, Connecticut, reiterated demands Wednesday for the firing of two police officers who allegedly shot and wounded an unarmed woman after authorities released partial body-camera footage showing them unleashing a barrage of bullets on a car she was in despite the driver apparently complying with orders to come out with his hands up.

The calls for the terminations of Officer Devin Eaton of the Hamden Police Department and Officer Terrance Pollock of the Yale University Police Department came as Stephanie Washington, the 22-year-old woman wounded in the April 16 shooting in New Haven, was released from the hospital.

"We do not need to wait until [Connecticut] State Attorney Patrick Griffin is finished with his investigation. They have violated every protocol of their departments and we're asking Hamden and we're asking Yale as of this day, this time, this hour, to terminate those two officers," the Rev. Dr. Boise Kimber, an alumni of Yale, said at a news conference at First Calvary Baptist Church in New Haven.

PHOTO: Surveillance video shows the police-involved shooting of an unarmed couple earlier this week in New Haven, Connecticut. BIMEC/James Walker
Surveillance video shows the police-involved shooting of an unarmed couple earlier this week in New Haven, Connecticut.

Both Eaton and Pollock have been on administrative leave since the shooting that left Washington with a wound to her torso.

Kimber and other religious leaders at Wednesday's news conference vowed that protests would continue until their demands are met.

Protesters plan to march on Thursday evening from the Yale campus to the home of Yale president Peter Salovey, according to organizers.

"We've got a way of convincing and we learned it through the civil rights movement," said Kimber. "We've got a way and it's a nonviolent way that we will deal with this."

On Tuesday, state investigators released video of the shooting from a bodycam Eaton was wearing that showed Washington's boyfriend, Paul Witherspoon III, driving and apparently complying with orders to exit the vehicle with his hands up.

The footage appears to contradict an initial statement by State Police Trooper Josue Dorelus that Witherspoon "exited the vehicle in an abrupt manner" and turned toward Eaton.

PHOTO: Body camera video shows the shooting of an unarmed woman by two Connecticut police officers earlier this week. Connecticut State Police
Body camera video shows the shooting of an unarmed woman by two Connecticut police officers earlier this week.

“There were indications that [Witherspoon] was told to open the door … or come out with his hands up,” Commissioner James Rovella of the Connecticut State Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection told reporters on Tuesday.

Authorities said Pollock's police cruiser was equipped with a dash camera but it was not activated during the shooting nor was Pollock's body-camera turned on. Authorities also said that Eaton's body camera did not immediately activate and only captured part of the incident.

Rovella said no gun was found on either Washington or Witherspoon and that a search of the car they were in failed to turn up a weapon.

The shooting unfolded about 4:20 a.m. after Hamden police responded to a call of an attempted armed robbery at a gas station in Hamden, according to state police.

A car allegedly matching the description of the one leaving the scene of the reported attempted robbery was spotted on Dixwell Avenue in New Haven, state police said. Pollock and Eaton, responding in separate police cruisers, stopped the Honda Civic that Washington and Witherspoon were in.

"I thought I was already dead because he pointed [a gun] right at me," Witherspoon told ABC affiliate station WTNH-TV in New Haven. "My girlfriend was just yelling like, 'They shot me! They shot me! They shot!'"

During a news conference last week, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said she was "troubled, concerned and, quite frankly, outraged" by the shooting.

"This incident betrays police activity gone horribly wrong along the Hamden-New Haven line and now Stephanie [Washington], as well as many residents, her family, her friends, must live with the consequences and resulting uncertainty of what was by every definition an unacceptable response," Harp said.