HAMDEN — Roughly two-thirds of Hamden residents say two police officers were not justified in their decision to open fire on an unarmed couple, an incident that injured a 22-year-old woman, a University of Quinnipiac poll found.
Still, the poll also found that 62 percent of Hamden residents approve of the police department’s performance overall.
“This survey suggests that Hamdenites regard the incident as an aberration, rather than
indicative of how the Hamden Police Department operates,” Quinnipiac University School
of Law professor William Dunlap said in a statement accompanying the results.
The poll is the first to measure public opinion in Hamden, where Quinnipiac is located, after two officers, one from the Hamden Police Department and one from Yale University, fired their guns into a car in New Haven on April 16, seriously wounding one of the vehicle’s two occupants.
Authorities said Hamden officer Devin Eaton and Yale University officer Terrance Pollack stopped the car while responding to a report of an attempted armed robbery in Hamden. Police said both officers opened fire when the driver got out of the car abruptly.
The poll found that 66 percent of respondents believe the shooting was not justified, compared with only 11 percent who believe it was.
That feeling was held consistently across all races: 61 percent of white respondents said the shooting wasn’t justified, as did 68 percent of Hispanic respondents and 88 percent of black respondents.
Still, 62 percent of respondents said they approve of the Hamden Police Department overall. Support was strongest among white respondents, at 67 percent, and Hispanic respondents, 66 percent, but was still at 50 percent among black respondents.
Only 29 percent of respondents said they don’t approve of the departments performance, while 8 percent had no response.
Respondents were more favorable of Hamden police then they were of officers nationwide: 53 percent approved of police, compared to 35 percent who disapproved.
The racial divide on support for police was even wider on that question, as 62 percent of white respondents continued to approve of police nationwide, but only 25 percent of black respondents felt the same.
“These differences among racial groups seem to be typical of attitudes reported in other
cities in the wake of police shootings around the country,” Dunlap said.
The shooting in New Haven has sparked protests, including clergy leaders who called last month for the officers to be fired.
Quinnipiac surveyed 1,699 Hamden residents between May 2 and Monday for the survey, which has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.
Quinnipiac said it conducted the poll as a community service at the request of the town. The polling center also said it maintained independence from the town in developing questions and conducting the poll.
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