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Most Hamden Residents Say Police Shooting Was Unjustified According To New Poll

Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public Radio
Protesters gather on Thursday, April 18 outside Woodbridge Hall on the campus of Yale University in response to the April 16 police shooting in Hamden.

A majority of Hamden residents feel that the April 16th police shooting incident in New Haven was not justified, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. But 62 percent of residents said they approve of the overall job that Hamden police are doing. 

That indicates that residents feel the incident was a one-off, said Quinnipiac University Law Professor William Dunlap. “They think that something went wrong, but that it’s not necessarily indicating that that’s a structural problem in the Hamden police department.”

Hamden officer Devin Eaton and Yale officer Terrance Pollock fired a total of 16 shots at a car that was suspected in an attempted armed robbery. 22-year-old Stephanie Washington, who was a passenger in the car, was injured. The driver, 21-year-old Paul Witherspoon, was not hurt.

The poll also suggests that most Hamden residents feel that the officers should be disciplined, but only 38 percent think they should be fired.

Residents are probably saying “these people need to be disciplined, perhaps educated, in order to ensure that it doesn’t happen again,” said Dunlap. But they may also feel that “it’s not necessary to use the ultimate penalty, which is firing somebody or even bringing criminal charges against them.”

About 1,700 residents were surveyed and classified into three racial groups — black, Hispanic, and white.

The survey was suggested by the town of Hamden, however Quinnipiac points out that the poll is independent with the usual neutral standards applied. It’s the first Quinnipiac poll ever done on a local issue. The University said it was done as a public service, and the town did not reimburse them for the work.

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