A New Haven Police Department report obtained by the News Tuesday gives a detailed account of the events leading up to the arrests of two Yale students at the raid on Elevate Lounge during the Morse-Stiles screw Oct. 2.
The report, written by Officer Matthew Abbate, provides a detailed description of NHPD officers’ interactions with the students and claims that student cell phone use during the raid interfered with police operations, which are currently the subject of an internal investigation by the NHPD. But three additional student eyewitnesses present throughout the arrests inside the club said the police report contains factual errors and inaccurately portrays the students as combative and violent.
In his report, Abbate claims Jordan Jefferson ’13 repeatedly ignored directions to not use his cell phone. The report said Jefferson disregarded the Officer in Charge of the NHPD S.W.A.T. team, Lieutenant Thaddeus Reddish, despite the fact that Reddish’s uniform “was clearly marked on numerous places” with the word “police.”
The report claims that the other student arrested, Zachary Fuhrer ’11 repeatedly ignored requests by Sergeant David Guliuzza to not use his cell phone during the raid. After being told he was hindering the officer’s ability to perform his duties, Fuhrer was placed into custodial arrest — meaning he would be taken into police custody following the initial arrest — for interfering with an officer.
Fuhrer is a former Arts and Living editor for the News. Both Fuhrer and Jefferson declined to comment due to pending legal proceedings.
In an interview Oct. 5, Mayor John DeStefano said that while students have the right to videotape police using cell phones, a distinction must be drawn between regular phone use and use during a police operation.
“When a police activity is going on, it might represent a threat to the officers,” DeStefano said.
Abbate writes that he proceeded to escort Jefferson away from the crowd — without handcuffs — as Jefferson laughed and said “f— this sh–.” The report claims Jefferson continued to act disrespectfully even as Reddish explained to him that his actions were hindering the investigation “by deterring other officers from doing their duties by having to repeatedly come back to him and tell him to put his phone away.”
The report details how Jefferson kept swearing and calling students over to him several times even as they were being “allowed” out of Elevate. Jefferson continued to laugh at Reddish, the report said, and soon after Abbate told the student to put his hands behind his back. According to the officer’s account, Jefferson immediately showed signs of resistance, clenching his fists and stiffening up.
“I felt Jefferson was going to fight,” Abbate said in the report.
Abbate said he warned Jefferson he would use the Taser gun against him. After continuing to allegedly resist, Abbate deployed the Taser into Jefferson’s right shoulder. Jefferson then struck Abbate’s hand and Reddish’s chest. As Jefferson swung his fists at Abbate, the report says, Abbate used the Taser on Jefferson a second time, on the chest.
Jefferson allegedly continued to fight. Abbate, along with an officer identified only as “J. Marshall” and Guliuzza, wrestled Jefferson the ground. The report says numerous patrons around the incident cheered for Jefferson to continue to fight.
“This situation placed the officer’s [sic] safety in immediate jeopardy,” Abbate said.
According to the report, Jefferson continued to resist arrest and struck officers with his arms. In response, Abbate said he Tased Jefferson twice more — once in the lower back and, after that, in the student’s lower leg. The report then says Jefferson was eventually handcuffed after officers physically removed his hands from beneath his body.
Jefferson was escorted to a patrol car. Abbate said that, because of his use of force on Jefferson, he sought medical attention for him at the Yale-New Haven Hospital. Three students interviewed who saw police use the Taser on the arrested student gave accounts that differed from the police report, though all three said they did not notice Jefferson until police singled him out and removed him from the crowd.
Both Tully McLoughlin ’11 and Marty Evans ’11 said they did not see Jefferson do anything that required arrest by more than three officers. The students gave conflicting accounts of how many officers apprehended Jefferson; estimates ranged between four and six.
“There was never a time when he was aggressive or resistant,” said McLoughlin, an organizer with the Student Response Committee. “Not at one point did I see him putting up a fight.” McLoughlin added that he did not see any students encourage Jefferson to fight the police.
Evans asserted that Jefferson had shoulder problems, and had recently undergone surgery that left him with limited arm mobility and range of motion. Evans said this could have accounted for his reported defiance and stiffness. The students interviewed also said they never heard Jefferson uttering profanity or trying to incite a commotion.
According to the report, both of the arrested students were charged with interfering with the police. Jefferson was also charged with inciting a riot, disorderly conduct and three counts of assaulting a police officer.