On Tuesday, April 16th 2019, Terrance Pollock, an Officer of the Yale Police Department fired his weapon during a motor vehicle stop, and the unarmed, Black passenger of the vehicle, 22-year-old Stephanie Washington, was shot and injured. There are countless questions that need to be answered regarding the circumstances of the shooting, but the answers to these questions will not change the fact that an unarmed woman was shot. Her life is permanently changed because of what happened this day. The answers gathered by the investigations into this event will not take away her pain and suffering. It does not matter whether the bullet that struck Stephanie Washington was fired by Officer Pollock or by the Hamden Police Officer who responded; when Terrance Pollock fired his weapon, he unofficially made himself judge, jury, and executioner. Terrance Pollock made the conscious decision that the death of the two people inside this vehicle, which was peacefully pulled over, was an acceptable outcome. We are angry and disgusted at the conduct of this officer, and demand that he as well as the Yale Police Department be held accountable for their abuse on the New Haven community.
There is an epidemic of police violence and police brutality in this country, and this shooting emphatically shows that Yale is not immune to this issue but rather deeply entrenched within it. We will not allow the Yale Police Department to continue to contribute to this oppressive epidemic. Members of the Yale community have come to this University from all over the country and the world to learn. They should not be forced to fear for their life while walking around this campus, unsure if the next YPD officer they encounter may feel that they look "suspicious" simply because the color of their skin. Police violence disproportionately affects communities of color, and we refuse to be complicit in this racist persecution. Too many tragedies have transpired at the hands of armed campus police. In 2015, Sam DuBose, an unarmed Black man, was shot and killed by a University of Cincinnati police officer. In 2017, Scout Schultz, a student of Georgia Tech and President of the Pride Alliance, was killed by campus police during a period of distress due to mental illness. Armed campus police are a risk to the students they are sworn to protect and to the communities in which schools reside.
We demand the following:
1. Terrance Pollock shall resign or be terminated immediately, as his failure to follow training protocol resulted in the lives of Stephanie Washington and Paul Witherspoon, two Black, unarmed, New Haven community members, being put in imminent danger. 2. Reformative measures shall be enacted on YPD: Officers will be disarmed due to an obvious failure in de-escalation training that leaves these officers with a shoot first mindset, and their patrol area will be restricted due to their inability to peacefully engage in community policing.3. Yale University shall make a financial contribution to the families of Stephanie Washington and Paul Witherspoon of at least $40,000. They will require a large monetary contribution to deal with both the immediate medical expenses, lost wages, long term care, and other indirect costs of suffering from this trauma.
We stand in solidarity with the New Haven community in the fight for justice for Stephanie and Paul.