Shooting of 2 unarmed African Americans near Yale sparks protests

A police officer involved in a shooting near the campus of Yale University has led to almost a week of protests. Unlike other high-profile shootings of unarmed African Americans, demonstrators at Yale say this case is not about race, but about how police are trained. 

Protesters poured onto the streets of Hamden, Connecticut, on Sunday. This was the sixth straight day of passionate, but peaceful demonstrations since an officer was involved in a shooting Tuesday in New Haven.

The surveillance video given to CBS affiliate WFSB-TV appears to show the moment police engaged with a car they said fit the description of one linked to a reported armed robbery. In the video, Hamden Police Officer Devin Eaton jumps out of his SUV, gun drawn, firing multiple rounds into the car, before departing down the street.

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A screen-shot from the surveillance video showing a Hamden, Conn., police officer shooting at two unarmed victims on Tue., April 16, 2019. WFSB-TV

Inside the car sat 22-year-old Stephanie Washington, and her boyfriend, 21-year-old Paul Witherspoon. Both were unarmed.

Washington was shot in the face with a non-life threatening wound. Witherspoon was not injured.

The video does not show what led to the shooting, but authorities say the responding officers, Eaton and Yale University Police Officer Terrance Black, began firing when Witherspoon abruptly got out of the vehicle.

Both officers have been placed on administrative leave while the incident is being investigated. Some protesters insist this is another example of African-Americans being targeted unfairly by police officers. 

“I believe it’s very important for the people to speak out, especially for injustice against people of color,” one protester said.

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A screenshot taken from footage of protesters marching after the shooting of two unarmed African Americans near Yale University campus in Connecticut.  WFSB-TV

Witherspoon’s uncle, Rodney Williams, said the shooting illustrates a nationwide problem rooted not in race, but in policing.

“You need to look at what’s really going on with the police … really look at how the police look at residents period,” he said. “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.”

Connecticut state police say they plan to release more details of their investigation, including body camera video, later this week.

The Mayor of Hamden, Curt B. Leng, promises more police training and public dialogue.

Meanwhile, the protesters say they won’t stop taking to the streets until the two officers involved in the shooting are fired.

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