Christine Dempsey and Nicholas Rondinone
The Hartford Courant
Police in New Haven shot a woman who was riding in a car believed to have been used in an armed robbery after authorities said the driver abruptly exited the vehicle, state police said.
The 22-year-old woman, who authorities did not identify, was hospitalized Tuesday at Yale New Haven Hospital in stable condition, state police Trooper Josue Dorelus said in an afternoon press conference streamed online. The shooting occurred in the area of Dixwell Avenue and Argyle Street, blocks from the New Haven-Hamden line. State police said a Hamden officer and a Yale University officer opened fire.
Activists condemned the shooting, staging protests late Tuesday outside the Hamden Police Department, and New Haven Mayor Toni Harp released a statement late Tuesday saying she was “gravely concerned” about the incident.
“I called the mother of the young woman who was shot to express my concern and wish the young woman a thorough recovery, and I pledged to work with my counterpart in Hamden and police officials from all three jurisdictions to ascertain exactly what happened, so we can work to avoid it happening again,” Harp said in a written statement.
Harp said she, Hamden Mayor Curt Leng and police officials from Hamden, New Haven and Yale would host a conference call Wednesday morning to further discuss how the incident unfolded.
Leng emphasized in a written statement late Tuesday night that the shooting would be investigated with “the utmost seriousness that it deserves.”
“As Mayor, I will need to hold off on any further public comments to ensure nothing I say has even the slightest chance of tainting what I trust will be a comprehensive investigation and evaluation by the State,” he wrote.
The woman, according to police, was sitting in the front passenger seat of the car when she was hit by at least one bullet fired at the driver.
Surveillance video shows a Hamden police officer fire at least one shot into the passenger side of the vehicle before running away from the car. State police did not say exactly how many shots were fired but said in a release late Tuesday that both officers fired “numerous rounds.”
Dorelus said at the press conference that they did not find a weapon in an initial search but that they would do a thorough search of the vehicle. The driver was not shot.
The car, a red Honda Civic, matched the description of a vehicle associated with an attempted armed robbery at about 4:19 a.m. at the Gas and Go gas station on Arch Street in Hamden, police said.
The robbery victim, a newspaper delivery driver, provided the description of the vehicle in a 911 call. The description, state police said, was shared with Hamden officers, who located the car in New Haven a short time later.
Officers blocked the vehicle before attempting to make contact with the driver, Dorelus said. The man, believed to be the suspect, got out of the car in an abrupt manner and turned toward police, Dorelus said, and officers opened fire.
The bullets missed the driver and at least one struck the passenger in the vehicle. The names of the officers involved in the shooting were not released Tuesday by state police.
“As in any officer-involved shooting, this is an active and ongoing investigation,” Dorelus said.
No arrests were made Tuesday, despite initial reports from New Haven officials about an arrest, state police said Tuesday night. The driver of the car was detained after the incident and transported to the Hamden Police Department but was not arrested and later released, state police said.
The state’s attorney’s office assigned the officer-involved shooting investigation to the state police’s Central District Major Crime Squad.
Tuesday’s shooting was met with harsh criticism from local clergy.
Rev. Boise Kimber, flanked by other clergy, in an afternoon press conference called the shooting “a terrible incident.”
He asked: “Why was Hamden here? Why was New Haven not notified that Hamden and Yale [police] were in our community?”
Kimber said he had conversations with leadership at the New Haven Police Department who said they were not alerted that Hamden police had entered the city. Kimber tried to reach Hamden police officials, but said he has not received a call back.
He said he spoke toNew Haven State’s Attorney Patrick Griffin, who committed to a thorough investigation of the shooting. Kimber stressed during the press conference that New Haven officers were not involved in the incident.
Protesters and activists gathered outside the Hamden police headquarters late Tuesday afternoon and some crammed into the station’s lobby to demand to speak with police leaders. More protesters later gathered at the scene of the incident itself.
In an earlier press conference Tuesday, acting Hamden police Chief John Cappiello declined to comment on why his officers went into New Haven.
“An internal affairs investigation will be conducted and that’s all I’m going to comment,” Cappiello said.
But Kimber and other clergy said this is far from the first time a Hamden police officer entered the city limits.
“It is a problem. It is a major problem,” he said of Hamden officers coming into the city. He was hopeful he could meet with Hamden police officials at some point to discuss this issue of protocol.
His final message: “Please Hamden, stay out of New Haven without contacting the proper authorities.”
Christine Dempsey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2019 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)
Visit The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.) at www.courant.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.