An investigation by the Yale Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit into a complaint that a YPD officer inappropriately used a firearm in detaining Tahj Blow ’16 has found that the officer’s actions complied with department policy.

Blow was stopped on Jan. 24 after the YPD received reports that an intruder had entered Trumbull College. The report was amongst a series of thefts in the college. The intruder was described as a tall African-American male who was wearing a red and white hat and a black coat.

According to the report, the release of which was announced in a campus-wide email early Tuesday afternoon, the officer did not point his firearm at Blow, but instead held the weapon at the “low-ready position.” The position, the report noted, is “a technique that involves a firearm pointed in the direction of, but not directly at, a potential suspect.” The report further stated that video surveillance showed that officer’s finger was “indexed along the receiver or frame of the gun,” a technique which keeps the finger away from the trigger.

The report’s conclusion stated that the officer — whose name, along with Blow’s, was redacted — “was working well within the established and accepted procedures for a law enforcement officer.” In particular, the report states the officer did not violate department policy on patrol operations, the use of force policy and the post use of force policy.

The report added that the internal unit found “no fault with the actions of [the officer], in their entirety, as they relate to this event.”

The 24-page document includes statements from Tahj Blow and the officer, as well as reports from the YPD’s emergency dispatch center, other witnesses and an analysis of video surveillance.

Although the report conceals the names of individuals cited, the content of the report matches details of the investigation previously made public by Blow’s father in a column published in The New York Times.


The campus-wide email, sent by University President Peter Salovey, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway and YPD Chief Ronnell Higgins, noted that “the student who was detained endured a deeply troubling experience.”

The Jan. 24 incident quickly garnered national attention. Tweets authored by Charles Blow, the New York Times columnist and Tahj Blow’s father, thrust the investigation into the national spotlight. Charles Blow said he was left “fuming” by the stop and that he had “no patience for [people] who try to convince me that the fear of these young [black] men feel isn’t real.” He attached the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and #ICantBreathe which have been associated with the movements responding to the recent events of Ferguson and Staten Island, in which African-American males have been killed by police officers on duty.

“We also must continue to recognize that this incident intersected — in ways that were both public and very painful —with current national conversations on race, prejudice, policing, and the use of force,” the campus-wide email read. “As we said in our earlier message, these are important and difficult issues, and there are real challenges here that we, as members of the Yale community and as citizens, must face. We will be creating opportunities in the near future to discuss these challenges as a community and hope that you will participate.”

On Tuesday afternoon, in response to the internal investigation, he tweeted “So, according to Yale, this was “in compliance with department policy”? No apology? #sigh,” linking to a YaleNews article discussing the report. 

Neither Charles nor Tahj Blow responded to requests for comment Tuesday.

In conflicting statements in the report, Blow said the officer did raise his gun at him, but the officer said it remained in the low-ready position throughout the encounter — which the officer said lasted no longer than 20 seconds. He also told investigators that he believed any officer in his position would have done the same thing.

In a statement to the News, the Yale Police Benevolent Association, a union representing roughly 65 patrol officers and detectives in the YPD, said they were pleased with the results of the investigation.

“We have maintained throughout the investigation that our officer did nothing wrong,” the statement read.

The statement added that, while the benevolent association empathized with the student who was stopped, police officers have to exercise the utmost caution in conducting a felony stop as one hesitation could cost an officer his or her life.

The officer, in his statement, added that he contacted Blow the following evening in order to explain the reason for their interaction and to assure the complainant that “he was just doing his job.” He added that he immediately changed his tone when he realized that Blow was not a threat, but the situation — including the poor lighting, the fact he was alone, the fact that Blow matched the description he had been provided with and a lack of knowledge as to whether the suspect was armed — required him to be initially cautious.

Blow’s complaint was received on Jan. 24 in a phone conversation with a YPD lieutenant. When contacted regarding the investigation, Blow declined to be interviewed, opting instead to send an emailed statement. According to the report, the complaint intake form indicated that Blow understood being stopped, but he said he was concerned with the use of a handgun. It was treated as the initial complaint and began the internal investigation. YPD policy states that “all officers and employees who receive misconduct complaints against other department employees, shall immediately inform a supervisor … so that the supervisor ensures proper intake of the complaint.” While not all complaints require internal review, an investigation was ordered by the chief.

The report added that Charles Blow also filed a complaint, implying in a conversation with a lieutenant that the stop was based on the complainant’s race as opposed to any wrongdoing.

The original incident attracted national attention and discussion, University spokesman Tom Conroy said the University took the correct action in ensuring a full review of the case took place, and then sharing the findings of the investigation.

“Different people can have their own opinions about it, but the important thing is that everyone has the fullest possible information,” Conroy said. “If they’re going to make some judgments, they can certainly make them based on all of the facts that are available.”


In addition to releasing the results of the investigation, the email said the University has convened an independent review panel that will consult administrators on addressing an array of issues that have emerged since the events of Jan. 24. For instance, the panel will review the YPD’s investigation process to ensure that it meets the highest standards and has been invited to offer recommendations to the YPD regarding policy, procedure and training.

Berkeley College Master and professor of psychology Marvin Chun will chair the review panel, which includes former federal judge Stephen Robinson and former president of the New England Association of Chiefs of Police Charles Reynolds. Chun declined to comment during the panel’s review, but confirmed that the panel is made up of just Robinson, Reynolds and himself.

Conroy said the panel is comparable to the campus climate committee that was created under former University President Richard Levin in response to an investigation that claimed Yale had violated Title IX. Levin recruited senior fellow of the Yale Corporation Margaret Marshall LAW ’76 and University Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews, who was vice president for campus life and dean of students at the University of Chicago at the time, to offer recommendations and insight on the University’s sexual misconduct policies.

“A small group with impeccable credentials was asked to take a look at an issue from a very informed and fresh perspective,” Conroy said in reference to the Title IX group.

Martha Highsmith, a senior advisor to the president and provost, said the panel was selected for its expertise in law, policing and knowledge of the Yale community. She added that senior leaders, including the president, identified and invited individuals who could give excellent advice.

The investigation already identified three areas of deficiency in YPD policy. According to the report, there needs to be clarification in regard to the definitions of “low ready,” “pointing a firearm” and “body camera activation.” The report noted that appropriate training for police officers should follow.

In the campus-wide email, University administrators said they recognized that the investigation publicly intersected with current national conversations on race, prejudice, policing and the use of force. As a result, administrators will be creating opportunities for students to further discuss these challenges, according to the email.

“These are important and difficult issues, and there are real challenges here that we, as members of the Yale community and as citizens, must face,” the email said.

No details of these opportunities were given at the time, but Highsmith said students can expect to hear further details after spring break.

This article has been updated to reflect the version published in print on March 4, 2015.

  • theantiyale

    I look forward to Mr. Blow Sr. putting this decision in a larger framework for our consideration , especially since the Justice Department has issued almost simultaneously today a scathing report of police bias in Ferguson for years.

    • Guest

      aka the Social Justice Department

      • theantiyale

        Nothing wrong with social justice

        • David

          Anytime you modify justice it screws it up. Particularly when there is no ground truthing. And have you examined the methodology of the report? Scant.

        • td2016

          This is “social justice,” and has nothing to do with social justice other than by ironic appropriation of vocabulary.

  • Guest

    New Haven is one of the only places on earth where a lawsuit for “reverse descrimination” in the fire department held water.

  • aaleli

    There are problems enough without making them where they do not exist.

  • td2016

    CHAPTER 2: Let the paranoid, race baiting claims of a coverup commence!

    • ShadrachSmith

      If Democrat Political Street Theater were limited by facts, there wouldn’t be any Democrat Political Street Theater worth doing 🙂

    • Greg Thomson

      The Yale Police Department investigated itself and found itself and its officer had done no wrong. Nothing paranoid or “race baiting” at all about pointing out this obvious conflict of interest. It is you who are race baiting, by making that accusation about those who would bring attention to the report’s obvious conflicts.

      • td2016

        My response above to your prior comments already covers this one.

        The general principle to which you aver as “obvious” does not even exist.

        Also contrary to your thinking: Suspicion, hostility and presumptuosness do not form critical reasoning, they instead precipitate into a nasty personal unawareness. Nobody adhering to what you have articulated in these comments could even function within any organization at anything but the lowest level without eventual disastrous consequences, and in no event should or could be given significant organizational responsibilities.

        • Greg Thomson

          There’s an obvious conflict of interest in a police department investigating itself and clearing itself of wrongdoing.

          And yes, the general principle — CONFLICT OF INTEREST — is quite obvious and well-established in our legal system and elsewhere, even if your own hate and ignorance prevents you from understanding it.

          • td2016

            And, as I have pointed out, the existence of such general CONFLICTS OF INTEREST do not support the level of suspicion, hostility, distrust and dismissal that you advance as your guiding general principle, which is really just paranoia in fancy dress.

  • newhavenwatcher

    So it’s okay with the YPD and the Yale administration that police can pull a weapon for a non-violent “suspect” on campus? It makes this senior citizen wonder–am I safe on campus with cops with weapons who needn’t use common sense?

    • ShadrachSmith

      We all wonder if we are safe. That’s why we hire police 🙂

    • Nancy Morris

      By your thinking, for example, a single woman who wakes up to find a strange man in her bedroom is unjustified in pulling a gun until he is actually violent?

      Obviously the relevant question goes WELL BEYOND whether a suspect has ALREADY been violent. Until the very moment they started shooting up people in Charlie Hedbo, even the Parisian terrorists were as far as reported totally nonviolent on their way to their murderous rendezvous.

      This officer showed common sense, just not whatever one calls your sense. Sheesh.

      • mryale

        If a woman wakes up to find a strange man in her bedroom, then she is confronting someone she *knows* has committed a crime — breaking and entering. And he is probably intent on harming her.

        Blow was just walking back to his room. His only “crime” was looking like someone else.

        • td2016

          You need to re-read the original comment by newhavenwatcher, which specifically focuses on VIOLENCE: “So it’s okay with the YPD and the Yale administration that police can pull a weapon for a non-violent “suspect” on campus?”

          Your comment is a non sequitur.

  • Joy Darby

    Please note that I am NOT addressing this specific incident but instead I ask a question. How and when and why did the display of a gun by a police officer while stopping and questioning a suspected perpetrator of a non-violent crime become law? And who is going to rise to the occasion to see that this ‘law’ is corrected to agree with common sense ? May I suggest Yale’s Law School take up the challenge?

    • Yale1984

      Entering an occupied residence with intent to commit burglary, “hot prowl burglary” or “home invasion” in current parlance, is classified a class A felony in Connecticut (January 2008).

      Ct penal code Sec. 53a-100aa
      Home invasion: Class A felony. (a) A person is guilty of home invasion when such person enters or remains unlawfully in a dwelling, while a person other than a participant in the crime is actually present in such dwelling, with intent to commit a crime therein, and, in the course of committing the offense: (1) Acting either alone or with one or more persons, such person or another participant in the crime commits or attempts to commit a felony against the person of another person other than a participant in the crime who is actually present in such dwelling, or (2) such person is armed with explosives or a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument.

    • 100wattlightbulb

      You want to approach every possible suspect with nice words and a smile, be my guest.

    • breakingbad23

      Burglary is far from non-violent, especially when a perpetrator knows he is about to be apprehended for committing a felony. Heck, there’s plenty of places where an officer approaches a motor vehicle stop with gun in hand until he knows exactly what he has in that car. It was a completely reasonable stop. The standard is how a “reasonable” officer would act AT THAT MOMENT, not days, weeks or months later after every Monday morning quarterback analyzes it from the safety of their couch. Plenty of officers are dead for not doing what this officer did.

    • David

      When an officer who did not was killed.

  • gdaddo

    Is Charles Blow going to apologize for his hasty and erroneous characterization of the episode? Of course not. Sigh.

    • theantiyale

      So a tall, slender, white male in his twenties has burglarized a Silliman suite and an alert for the suspect has been sent out on campus police radio. Campus police notice a white male in his twenties crossing from Silliman to the Music School. He has longish dark hair, is slim and about 6′ tall. Do they order him to the ground with a pistol drawn?
      Let’s assume they do, just as in the case of the dark skinned Mr. Blow.
      It turns out he is the grandson of John F. Kennedy, a former YDN contributor, a recent graduate of Yale, and currently visiting a friend. at Silliman.
      Do you think the Kennedy family would be silent?
      Mr. Blow Sr. owes no one an apology.

      • Nancy Morris

        Charles Blow owes everyone an apology, including his son. The intruder was described by students as an “extraordinarily tall black male” wearing a “black coat, red and white beanie cap” and with “orange details” on his shoes. It was a complete fluke that Tahj matched that description. Charles Blow disgracefully excluded from his column important facts, including that the officer is African-American, while insinuating the officer is an anti-black racist! Nor could Charles Blow be bothered to wait for the facts before shooting off his mouth in the New York Times. Blow had packs of race-baited fools baying for this officer’s job and reputation. Yet you say Charles owes no apology? An apology would just be the start.’That officer should sue Charles Blow and the NY Times for defamation.

        The simple fact is that there was NEVER any basis for Charles Blow’s blow up, and he can’t hide behind fake parental concern and outrage. What he did was and remains disgraceful.

        • gdaddo

          I agree Nancy. But given his hasty public reaction immediately after the incident and his obnoxiously petulant responses to the findings of the investigation, I think Charles Blow lacks the self awareness necessary to do the better thing, admit he was wrong, and apologize to the parties involved. In all, Charles Blow seems to have a highly inflated sense of entitlement, possibly based on his class status.

        • Greg Thomson

          The Yale Police investigated themselves and — surprise! — found themselves and their officer had done no wrong. The conflict of interest should be obvious to any thinking person, but apparently not to you.

          • td2016

            See my response to your comment above plus this additional note: Contrary to your absurd assertion here, the YPD report DOES find it had “done wrong” in training this officer, in two clearly stated areas. Your mind is so closed, your resistance to facts is so strong and your rejection of critical reasoning is so powerful that you just don’t even read what’s on the page.

        • JJ

          Um, if I spend 60 000+ dollars a year to send my child to Yale university, you had better believe that I don’t expect a campus police officer to tell him to lie on the ground as he is exiting the library. That is not the type of treatment anyone expects. If your child, who isn’t drunk, isn’t belligerent, isn’t burning an American flag on someone’s porch, but is in fact leaving the library get ordered onto freezing pavement in the middle of winter and as he lies on the floor, has to face a police officer holding an unholstered weapon, how would you feel? I’d be furious. And if you were honest, you’d admit that you would be too.
          Imagine how illegitimate your child would feel, as a black man on campus, if this happened to him? Imagine having to comfort him on the phone and tell him that he belongs and that he can do anything he wants? Imagine having to do that in 2015, when you’re from the segregated South and everyone all around you is telling you that racism is dead.

          Take 5 minutes to really think about that. To really think about that college student. And then, we can talk.

          • Nancy Morris

            “Illegitimate?” It was Charles Blow who attempted to render this YPD officer illegitimate. How do you think HE feels? How do you think an African American police officer now known to have done NOTHING WRONG takes being accused of anti-black racism? The creepiest attacks on this officer even insinuated his racism was “subconscious!”

            You can’t be serious. Nobody is THAT insensitive to the damage and pain of others as you hold yourself out as being.

          • td2016

            Whatever does the amount of tuition have to do with any of this?

      • Hieronymus Machine

        In one of the few instances where I can acknowledge “white privilege”:

        Your hypothetical Mr. Kennedy likely would laugh it off, employing it later as popular party patter (“…so, I drop to the ground as instructed; man was I shakin’, I mean, brah had a gun!”), highlighting the event’s essential absurdity; Mr. Blow may have a different take (and re-telling).

        BTW: The report is *fascinating* and well worth a read; the circumstances are indeed unfortunate but, it seems, truly coincidental (down to carrying camera/electronic equipment over the shoulder!). I do hope Mr. Blow (the younger–I couldn’t care a fig for the elder) can some day sport this story with some sort of pride at a local watering hole (first round’s on me!).

        • theantiyale

          Not a hypothetical person just situation.
          As for the the official report: YDN makes the point that “contrary to reports” the officer’s gun was in the “low ready” position. If you bring up youtube videos on that position ( low ready pistol position) you will see that the officer’s gun would thus be facing a person lying on the ground, i.e. menacing Mr. Blow.

          As for white privilege laughing it off I can assure you this privileged white guy did not laugh it off when Yale Police arrested me at the Divinity School—– although the judge ultimately did. See

          • td2016

            Home made forensics. Drivel.

        • Guest

          Home made forensics. Drivel.

  • Nancy Morris

    “The intruder was described as a tall African-American male who was wearing a red and white hat and a black coat.”

    What is wrong at the YDN that is this critical but simple fact is incorrectly reported here? In fact, the intruder was described by students as an “extraordinarily tall black male” wearing a “black coat, red and white beanie cap” and with “orange details” on his shoes.

  • Yale1984

    Sec. 53a-102. Burglary in the second degree: Class C felony. (a) A person is guilty of burglary in the second degree when such person (1) enters or remains unlawfully in a dwelling at night with intent to commit a crime therein, or (2) enters or remains unlawfully in a dwelling, while a person other than a participant in the crime is actually present in such dwelling, with intent to commit a crime therein.

  • Greg Thomson

    This investigation was an *internal* investigation: the Yale Police Department investigating ITSELF. This isn’t even an investigative body convened by the University but separate from the YPD.

    The conflict of interest should be obvious to all.

    Yet some of these comments demand that Charles Blow apologize on the basis of the YPD having found itself and its own officer free of wrongdoing. One must wonder whether those commenting have even grasped this distinction: that an accused or implicated body investigating and clearing itself and its members of wrongdoing is not at all conclusive.

    If such commenters are Yale students, then they might want to invest more time in developing the critical thinking skills that Yale prides itself in.

    • td2016

      You don’t recognize critical thinking simply because you don’t practice it yourself. This incident concerned the officer’s actions, but now you concoct out of whole cloth a supposed “obvious” YPD-wide corruption and a coverup, with no evidence to support your accusation.

      The “conflict of interest” you find so all-important would vitiate all internal investigations by all organizations. But internal investigations are extremely valuable and universally practiced, and no system or investigation is absolutely conclusive. But absolute conclusiveness is not required. No sane person just disregards internal investigations. Only paranoid reasoning, not critical reasoning, could reach your conclusion that this investigation is to be disregarded.

      The article specifically states that the University is constituting a committee to look into the YPD investigation and review its procedures, but by your “reasoning” that committee itself is worthless: just “Yale investigating itself,” where “the conflict of interest should be obvious to all.” After all, we’ve just been lectured “that an accused or implicated body investigating and clearing itself and its members of wrongdoing is not at all conclusive.”

      And if an outside blue-ribbon panel were convened, that would by your reasoning just be an investigation of Yale by hand-picked Yale toadies, where “the conflict of interest should be obvious to all.”

      And, in fact, any fair minded person by this point DOES expect the same result at all levels of investigation: Exoneration of the officer, no need for any coverup and no coverup. That’s because there has never been any evidence adduced by anyone of any other result.

      But not you. You don’t care about evidence. You have your predetermined hateful conclusions. THAT is what “should be obvious to all.”

      • Greg Thomson

        Dear anonymous commenter/troll from TD: you misrepresent my comment completely, perhaps because you aren’t able to understand it. And perhaps because your own racism and hatred blind you.

        The person who brought race into this discussion is YOU. You started your comments with “let the race baiting begin.” You are, in fact, race baiting with that very comment.

        We don’t allow judges to preside in cases involving close family members, much less involving themselves: it’s a conflict of interest. The YPD has a direct interest in the investigation’s outcome, and every interest in not implicating itself or its officers. Nothing “race baiting” at all with taking issue with that conflict. Pointing that conflict of interest out has nothing to do with race.

        This isn’t an accusation of corruption, and there is no hate at all — except that coming from you. I’d invite others to read your comments below, starting with “let the race baiting begin.”

        My point is simply that an investigation shrouded in conflict of interest cannot be trusted as conclusive, and that Charles Blow owes no apology on the basis of this report.

        • td2016

          What should be “obvious to all,” and is in fact obvious to almost everyone but you, is that the general “conflict of interest” to which you refer is not sufficient to support the level of suspicion, hostility and presumptuousness that you assign to it. Your ersatz “general principle” would invalidate every single internal investigation by any organization. In fact, ordinary good faith internal investigations are generally reliable, universally practiced and necessary features of self-government. And you adduce NO EVIDENCE of bad faith on the part of the YPD or the University, and there is no such bad faith. Nobody expects the select committee appointed to survey the YPD investigation to come up with any other result, and not because there is a dark conspiracy of the type that percolates from you.

          Your point is even simpler than you describe: You advocate unrestrained paranoia and suspicion without benefit of evidence. You, sir, are a hate monger, pure and simple, Mr. Thomson. And you are a troll with no real understanding of what you write: one with a putative name and a condescending, pre-rational affect.

        • Nancy Morris

          “The person who brought race into this discussion is YOU.”

          Wait! This controversy is mostly predicated on Charles Blow’s claims in his New York Times column that this African American YPD officer acted with racial animus. But you claim that TD2016 is the first person who “brought race into this discussion?”

          Are you having a hallucination? Do you live on Mars?

        • Nancy Morris

          O no, Mr Thomson. TD2016 does not misrepresent your comment at all. He or she nails you just right. Your yowling is proof of H.L.Menken’s observation that injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice. You’ve had your justice and you obviously don’t care for the sting.

        • terryhughes

          This reasoning is completely internally inconsistent gibberish. Direct conflicts of interest disqualify a judge from a case, but you now say that you are not arguing that the YPD was disqualified from conducting this investigation. So which is it? If the “principle” you allege operates to DISQUALIFY judges, why does it only render this investigation “not conclusive?” In fact, the YPD has no “conflict of interest” that disqualify it from conducting this investigation. Or are you claiming that the YPD officers who conducted this investigation of this incident gained financially from finding that the officer followed appropriate protocol? You treat “conflict of interest” as magic words. “Abracadabra,” you get your way. No. You obviously don’t understand conflict of interest principles as appropriately applied, not as you conjure and confect.

          And, of course, as others here have pointed out, NOTHING humans do is completely conclusive. Obviously you want your argument to “demonstrate” far more than that. You want to disregard the findings of this investigation. But your arguments don’t justify any such thing. What “should be obvious to all” is the fact that the findings of this investigation are almost certainly correct, and your argument is unmoored, pettifogging word magic.

          Your assertion that a judge who makes a decision based on his own conflict of interest is not necessarily corrupt is utterly wrong and so bizarre as to be surreal. Such a judge would in fact be a PARADIGM of corruption. Of course you have slimed the YPD with accusations it has been corrupt. Your denial of your outrageous libel makes it even worse.

          The generalized “conflict of interest” (it is not, in fact, anything of the sort in any accepted precedent) you claim disqualified the YPD from conducting this investigation, or allows it to be not taken seriously or disparaged or disregarded or whatever the heck you think you are saying, is absurd. And, as others here have also pointed out, your “principle” would lead to the absurd conclusion that organizations cannot EVER reliably investigate their constituent members.

          What are you insinuating happened here anyway?

  • David

    Facing a uniformed officer with gun drawn in whatever position is a daunting experience.

  • mryale

    I would like to know where the critics of Mr Blow Sr think this should lead.

    They argue that what happened to Blow Jr is pretty much what one should expect: the son is black in a city that has a significant black population, and the son just has to understand that this means he will, from time to time, be confronted by police with gun drawn.

    Do they think black students should come to Yale anyway? This seems fanciful. Or is the right lesson that Yale should only have white and Asian students, who are less likely to be confused with criminal suspects?

    And as for Blow Sr: do his critics really claim they would not flip out if this happened to their child? Or are they relying on that fact that as whites, this is unlikely to happen.

    • td2016

      This is a total misrepresentation of Blow’s critics’ position from beginning to end. Indeed, there is not a single point attributed in this comment to such critics that has been made by any such critic. Nor does it address the basic facts that Blow deliberately omitted key data from his column and accused the officer of racism with no evidence at all.

      Weirdly, the admission here that Charles Blow did “flip out” is exactly correct, and his column is worth as much as any other flipped out rant. And flipped out rants require apologies.

  • theantiyale

    Look at all the white people bashing Mr. Blow. I don’t see Mr. Sharpton or Jesse Jackson bashing Mr. Blow. Tell me please we aren’t part of a racist pattern in these very posts.

    • td2016

      “Bashing?” Since you have assumed your conclusion with a contemptuous characterization of the thinking of others, life becomes so much easier for you. You can leave out the thinking part.

  • theantiyale

    Mr Blow Sr. responded to the report saying what he and his son wanted was assurance that “draw now, ask questions later” is not standard procedure for YPD.