Police release bodycam footage of officers shooting at unarmed black couple singing love songs to each other in their car near Yale campus
Stephanie Washington, 22, and boyfriend Paul Witherspoon III, 21, were shot at in New Haven, Connecticut on April 16
Hamden cop Devin Eaton and Yale officer Terrance Pollack fired at them seconds after alighting from their cruiser, but neither officer turned on their bodycams during the shooting
A feature on the camera meant it recorded before it was actually switched on
Footage of the incident shot on the bodycam released by police this week, shows that the couple were sitting in their vehicle, singing love songs at the time
the officer claim the believed at the time, that the vehicle had been involved in an armed robbery
Both officers have been placed on administrative leave while investigation is ongoing
Stephanie Washington [left], was shot in the face and has since been hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. Her boyfriend Paul Witherspoon [right], was unharmed
It does not include audio and will be sent for enhancement as part of the investigation.
Connecticut State Police Commissioner James Rovella said that ‘in a perfect world without the stressors’ the bodycams would have been properly employed: “This is unheard of that we’re putting it out so quickly,” Rovella said.
“What’s important is transparency and trust.”
Protests erupted on the streets on Monday after another video surfaced of the police officers opening fire. Demonstrators believe the couple came under fire because they are black.
The official police account said the officers believed the vehicle the couple was driving had been involved in the armed robbery of a newspaper delivery person at a local Hamden gas station around 4am, CBS News reports.
That the shooting happened when responding officers then caught up with the alleged getaway vehicle – which was being driven by Witherspoon.
He then begins to fire multiple shots at the unarmed couple after Witherspoon abruptly gets out of the vehicle before running away from the car towards the end of the street.
Video from inside the couple’s vehicle shows that prior to the shooting, they had been enjoying each other’s company and were singing songs to each other. They had been singing ‘Nothing In This World’ by R&B singer Avant and Keke Wyatt.
Officer Eaton has been placed on administrative leave while an investigation into the shooting is ongoing. Yale officer Pollock was also placed on leave, as standard protocol for any instance when a Yale officer discharges their weapon.
The shooting has led to an outpouring of peaceful demonstrations along the streets from groups such as the Black Lives Matter movement and Yale University students, with protesters claiming the black couple were unfairly targeted.
The shooting occurred near the university campus.
Last Thursday, hundreds of protesters took the streets and blocked traffic near the university as community organizer Kerry Ellington addressed more than 200 students outside Yale University’s Woodbridge Hall.
Witherspoon’s uncle, Rodney Williams, told CBS News that the incident also sheds light on how police in the country are trained.
He said: ‘You need to look at what’s really going on with the police… really look at how the police look at residents period.
‘The police could be black, white, Puerto Rican… it’s just a police issue… I think we need to be respected as human beings and I feel like they really don’t.’
Protesters pour onto streets in support of Stephanie Washington and Paul Witherspoon
The Mayors of Hamden and New Haven have teamed up with the various police department for a joint Wednesday conference to discuss how to curb such incidents from taking place again.