Sammy Westfall

A Yale Police Department officer and a Hamden Police Department officer fired numerous rounds at two people in a car at a motor vehicle stop, leaving a young woman injured early Tuesday morning.

At roughly 4:19 a.m., the Hamden Police Department responded to a 911 call reporting an attempted armed robbery of a newspaper delivery person at a Gas and Go station at 144 Arch St. in Hamden, according to a Tuesday Connecticut State Police press release. The press release said that an officer from the Hamden Police Department and an officer from the Yale Police Department then located the suspect’s vehicle near Dixwell Avenue and Argyle Street in New Haven.

The officers attempted to “make contact” with the suspect and initiated a motor vehicle stop, the state press release said. During the interaction with the people in the suspect’s vehicle, “numerous rounds were fired by both officers on the scene.”

“Obviously one of our officers was involved in an unfortunate incident. I cannot go into the details as to what transpired. An individual was unfortunately shot,” said Hamden Deputy Police Chief Bo Kicak at the Hamden Police Department’s headquarters on Tuesday evening.

In a public safety advisory sent via email at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Vice President for Human Resources and Administration Janet Lindner informed the Yale community that both a Hamden and Yale officer discharged their weapons and that a passenger was struck. According to the email, the passenger’s injuries were “not life-threatening,” and the YPD officer who fired the weapon has been placed on administrative leave pending the completion of the Connecticut State Police Department’s investigation.

Surveillance video, posted on Facebook by Kent Pierce of WTNH, shows the officer-involved shooting incident. In the video, a police car drove around the back of the suspected red Honda. While the initial movements of the car’s passengers were not shown in the video’s angle, within seconds of the car’s stopping, an officer leaves his car and begins shooting multiple times at the red car before running away.

Members of a Facebook event identified the woman shot as Stephanie Washington and the driver of the vehicle as Paul Witherspoon. The event “Alert Justice For Stephanie!” hosted by community activist groups including People Against Police Brutality and Black Lives Matter New Haven, called for community members to gather outside Hamden Police Department at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday to “hold Hamden Police Department accountable.”

The shooting left the female passenger with nonfatal injuries, and the “suspect was not injured.” wrote the Connecticut State Police press release.  Both victims were transported to the Yale New Haven Hospital. As of Tuesday evening, the female passenger was in stable condition, according to state police.

New Haven spokesman Laurence Grotheer said that when a local law enforcement agency has an officer-involved shooting, an investigation of the shooting is “immediately and automatically” assumed by an outside agency — usually the Connecticut State Police — to ensure objectivity in the investigation. The Office of the Chief State’s Attorney assigned the Connecticut State Police Major Crime Squad to take over the investigation of this incident. According to a Connecticut State Police press release, the state’s Major Crime Squad was requested to investigate at approximately 5:16 a.m. on Tuesday.

At a press briefing in New Haven on Tuesday afternoon, State Trooper Josue Dorleus said that the Yale Police Department officer arrived to the scene soon after the Hamden Police.

“While attempting to make contact with that party, the suspected party exited the vehicle in an abrupt manner, and turned towards the officer. At which point the officers fired at least one round at the suspect,” Dorleus said at the press briefing.

According to Dorleus, the female passenger, who was seated in the front passenger seat “was struck at least one time in the torso.”

Dorleus said that based on the information relayed to the Hamden Police Department, the suspect’s vehicle matched the description of the vehicle provided to the Hamden dispatchers. But he could not confirm that there was positive identification of the vehicle. He also said that no weapons were found on the suspects or in the car.

Grotheer said that the Connecticut State Police and the State’s Attorney’s Office will release any additional information about this incident. Grotheer confirmed that no New Haven Police Department personnel were on scene at the time of the incident, but that the shooting occurred within city limits.

Following the incident, officers closed off the crime scene in the area of Dixwell Avenue and Argyle Street, and New Haven Police Department officers helped secure the area.

Sammy Westfall | sammy.westfall@yale.edu