Yale suspends police officer involved in April shooting

MICHAEL MELIA

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Yale University police officer has been suspended for 30 days and will be reassigned to administrative duty for his involvement in an April shooting that injured an unarmed woman, the school said Friday.

The Yale officer, Terrance Pollock, responded to a traffic stop and fired his gun three times at the car after a Hamden officer opened fire.

A state prosecutor determined Pollock was justified because he believed somebody inside the car was exchanging gunfire with the Hamden officer, Devin Eaton, who fired 13 times and wounded the 22-year-old woman. Eaton was charged in October with assault and reckless endangerment. He has pleaded not guilty.

Yale determined Pollock would be suspended without pay and have his gun taken away after an administrative review led by Chase Rogers, a former chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, according to Yale spokeswoman Karen Peart.

“I believe that we have reached a fair decision — one that addresses concerns about safety while allowing us to continue to benefit from the valuable contributions of a long-serving police officer who has much to offer in a new role," said Janet Lindner, a Yale vice president for human resources and administration.

Pollock, a 17-year veteran of the Yale police department, suffered a graze wound from a bullet fired by Eaton, officials said. Pollock has been on leave pending the outcome of the internal affairs investigation.

Eaton stopped the couple's car in New Haven because it matched the description of a car linked to a reported attempted armed robbery in Hamden, police said. A gas station clerk had called in the attempted armed robbery but later told police he hadn't see a gun, and surveillance video shows the driver, Paul Witherspoon III appearing to argue with another man but not robbing him.

Eaton opened fire after Witherspoon unexpectedly got out while appearing to raise his hands as if to surrender. Witherspoon was not injured, but his girlfriend, Stephanie Washington, suffered serious injuries including a fractured pelvis and spine. No weapons were found in the couple's car.

The April 16 shooting sparked several protests in New Haven and Hamden. The leader of the state conference of the NAACP has called for the firings of both officers, who are black. Witherspoon and Washington also are black.