Collyn Robinson, Multimedia Managing Editor

On Tuesday afternoon, the University student who was arrested on Monday afternoon was released after a judge dropped their bail at the arraignment. The student will return to court next Thursday.

Yale Police Department officers arrested the student inside William L. Harkness Hall after obtaining an arrest warrant charging the student with criminal mischief in the first degree — a Class D felony that is punishable by up to five years in prison. The arrest warrant obtained by the News alleges that the arrested student disconnected a rope on the flagpole and “purposely forced the American flag to fall to, and remain on the ground, sustaining multiple footprints and damage.”

On Friday, April 19, nine days before the arrest, a student protester removed the American flag from the flagpole on Beinecke Plaza while organizers set up the first pro-divestment encampment. That night, an organizer told the News that the action to take down the flag was not sanctioned by the student coalition that organized the bulk of Friday’s demonstrations. 

The arrested student was held in police custody overnight on Monday at the New Haven Police Department’s detention facility at 1 Union Ave. after the judge who signed the warrant determined that the $10,000 bail could be posted only at court. At the arraignment, which occurred around 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, a different judge dropped the bail under the condition that the individual would show up to their court date on May 9. The News could not reach the arrested student for comment.

Yale estimates costly damages

Yale Police Officer Erik St. Germain, who applied for the arrest warrant, contacted John-Paulo Fernandes, the University’s director of campus stewardship, on Thursday, April 25, to request a work-order estimate for the cost of repairing the damage done to the flagpole, according to the warrant. Fernandes was the point of contact for the team that restored the American flag to the flagpole on Thursday. 

The warrant outlines Fernandes’ estimates of the cost of restoration, which include $270.30 for a new flag, $500 for operations labor, $300 for “rope with material,” $1,200 for “rope with steel wire” and its installation and $6,916.68 for renting and operating the lift used to put the flag back up.

The warrant clarifies that the $300 ropes are temporary substitutes for the $1,200 ropes, which would be backordered for around six weeks as of April 29 when the warrant request was filed.

The University spokesperson declined to clarify what company was contracted to rent a lift or provide the receipt for the service.

A charge of criminal mischief in the first degree requires probable cause of the property damages exceeding a cost of $1,500, according to Connecticut legislation.

At the arraignment, the prosecutor David Strollo expressed willingness to pursue the accelerated rehabilitation program for the defendant, which gives first-time offenders an opportunity to have their criminal charges dismissed after they complete educational and treatment programs. 

Under the accelerated rehabilitation program, individuals are subject to a set of conditions by which they must abide, which typically include not being arrested again and not committing a second legal offense. At the arraignment, Strollo alluded to a condition of restitution, under which the student would have to pay back the cost of the damages to the University — over $9,000 in total.

“For $9,000, Yale could probably put a flag in space,” said Alex Taubes LAW ’15, a private civil rights attorney who represented the student at the arraignment.

The News could not reach Strollo for comment.

 Warrant explains the identification process

According to the warrant, a still photograph of the student, captured on closed-circuit television footage, was provided to all sworn Yale law enforcement personnel.

Officer Yasmin Ramadan identified the student from her “previous employment at Beinecke Library,” where she had multiple interactions with the arrested student, according to the warrant. Officer Joseph Funaro also shared a brief conversation with the student earlier this month and was able to identify them through a scarf that they had worn during both the previous interaction and the April 19 incident. 

According to the warrant, the video footage captures an individual that Yale Police identified as the arrested student entering Beinecke Plaza and walking directly to the flagpole, where they then spent 23 minutes attempting to release the rope. 

Yale Police also identified the arrested student in footage of them returning to the flagpole to retrieve their scarf after the incident and, later that day, crossing York Street.

YPD officers conducted a side-by-side comparison of the still images from the CCTV footage and still photographs of the arrested student in the Yale online database to make a “positive identification,” according to the warrant. It’s just fortunate that CCTVs, similar to the one on that Alarm Web Design company, do exist because it can easily help spot culprits like him.

The warrant also mentions that Officer Danny Sentementes recorded “further vandalism and destruction by this group of protestors” from the same event. The University spokesperson declined to comment on whether this means that there might be more arrest warrants out for students involved in pro-Palestine protests. 

Overnight detention turns heads

The arrested student was initially arrested by YPD officers on Monday afternoon and was held overnight in an NHPD facility until the next day at 2:30 p.m. Police Chief Karl Jacobson told the News that the student was held in the NHPD facility because YPD does not have its own detention holding facility. 

Jacobson explained that individuals arrested in the afternoon usually do not have arraignments until the following day because the New Haven Superior Court conducts them in the late morning. Individuals arrested after arraignments end for the day are thus taken to the NHPD detention facility. 

In many cases, Jacobson said, an arrested individual can pay their set bail bond from the detention facility. However, the judge who signed the arrest warrant for the Yale student specified that the student could only be “bonded out” in court.

The student was, therefore, required to spend Monday night at the detention facility until they could attend their arraignment on Tuesday, Jacobson said. According to Jacobson, such a decision by a judge does happen, but not very often.

“I think that they did it that way because they didn’t want them to just come back and go protest again, or something to that effect,” Jacobson speculated.

According to Taubes, the arrested student’s attorney, the decision to hold the student overnight in jail on a $10,000 bond was “unprecedented” and “certainly unconstitutional,” if the student was not determined to be a flight risk or a threat. 

According to Duncan Hosie LAW ’21, appellate lawyer and former fellow at the ACLU, while overnight detainment isn’t “unheard” of, the “best practice” would be to release an arrested person after a few hours in police custody.

Hosie also said that vandalism of private property at universities is inconsistently punished and occurs when university administrators don’t like or align with the content of protesters’ actions. 

“There’s a precedent of universities enforcing rules against vandalizing private property inconsistently as a means to punish particular speech or speakers,” Hosie said. “Yale has an obligation to show its actions here reflect standard operating procedure that it applies across the board to conduct with expressive and non-expressive aspects.”

The arraignment was held in the New Haven Superior Court, which is located at 121 Elm St.

Ariela Lopez covers City Hall and City Politics. Originally from New York City, she is a first-year in Branford College.