Yale University Questions Force Used by New Haven Police During Club Raid

Five Yale University students were arrested during the raid of Elevate Lounge.

ByABC News
October 4, 2010, 4:02 PM

Oct. 5, 2010— -- New Haven Police Department officers are accused of using excessive force during a raid of a Yale University party where cops allegedly brandishing semi-automatic weapons tasered a student before arresting several others.

Jordan Jefferson, the student who was tasered, had to be hospitalized following the incident. A total of five students were arrested during the raid.

According to Yale University, several students have reported "serious concerns" about the behavior of the officers who showed up at Elevate Lounge in New Haven, Conn., during the early morning hours of Oct. 2.

The owner of the nightclub likened the officers' behavior to a "terrorist attack" and says he's considering filing a lawsuit.

Police entered the club, which was being rented out by two colleges at Yale for a private dance party, to do a "compliance check," according to Joe Avery, public information officer for NHPD.

Avery said that there were 256 people in the club, 100 more than permitted by the fire marshall, police said. The officers police began to "defuse the chaotic situation and safety hazards in Elevate."

How officers attempted to do this is what students are saying got out of control.

Yale undergraduate student Jaya Wen told the student newspaper, Yale Daily News, that "the government's crime-fighting strategy was unnecessarily violent and confrontational."

Other students at the party, speaking anonymously, claimed that they had been grabbed by police officers, pushed up against the wall, and cursed at.

Molly Miller, the dean of Yale College, said in a statement, "We know that many students have experienced a very disturbing event. We have heard their voices, and we are committed to pursuing an appropriate resolution of the issues."

Neither Jefferson nor the other student named in the police report, Zachary Fuhrer, were able to be reached for comment. Whether they had retained legal counsel was not immediately known. It was also not known if Jefferson was at the legal drinking age.

The police department defended their actions in a written statement, writing, "Elevate presented such a risk that it was necessary to respond with a strong police presence that involved members of the SWAT team as support to the limited bar detail that was already in place."