There is a long laundry list of things that one can do to be unjustly harassed, or worse, potentially gunned down by police, especially when one is Black. Breathing while Black, barbecuing while Black, selling bottle water while Black. Napping in a dorm while Black.
The list is truly endless. And this past week, that list grew longer for couple Stephanie Washington and boyfriend Paul Witherspoon who were merely sitting in a car.
On April 16, Washington and Witherspoon were sitting in their car together when both Hamden police officer Devin Eaton and Yale University police officer Terrance Pollock hopped out the side of their patrol cars and fired into both sides of Washington and Witherspoon’s red Honda Accord. Reps for the police department in question claim that the car matched another vehicle that was allegedly involved in an armed robbery.
Washington had to be immediately taken to a nearby hospital for her injuries and is expected to make a full recovery. Witherspoon was unharmed but claims that he will never forget this incident
“I’ve heard gunshots before but it’s a different feeling when somebody’s shooting at you… when the police are shooting at you,” he said.
Toni Harp, mayor of New Haven stated recently—amid protests that erupted on April 19—that the shooting had harmed relations between the denizens of Hamden and New Haven and the police departments involved.
Harp stated to the Associated Press: “This incident betrays police activity gone horribly wrong along the Hamden-New Haven line and now Stephanie, 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”.
As the community awaits the release of the body cam footage of the incident from the Department of Emergent Services and Public Protection, students, community members, and Black Lives Matter demonstrators continue to hold protests in New Haven and Hamden as they await news about whether or not the officers in question—who are Black—will face disciplinary action.