NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The New Haven Police Department has opened a use of force investigation following an incident Friday afternoon in which a White police officer punched, and pepper-sprayed a Black New Haven businessman, who was being evicted from a downtown office building.
New Haven police body camera footage shows officers trying to handcuff 52-year-old Shawn Marshall inside the building lobby after he refused to leave following over an hour of negotiating after he was being evicted.
Officer Justin Cole said in his report he grabbed Marshall and punched him in the head multiple times to "try and gain control."
"My immediate reaction was concern," said Dori Dumas, President of the NAACP of Greater New Haven. "It was alarming, and I was extremely bothered by what I saw and witnessed."
And, after police claim Marshall tried to run away, they took him down again, with Cole hitting him with pepper spray, which allowed police to finally cuff him.
"Red flags went up," said Dumas. "I immediately reached out to the Chief. I have been in communication with him. I spoke with him again today for about an hour."
A statement from New Haven Police Chief Otoniel (Tony) Reyes read, in part, "We take use of force seriously and the Internal Affairs review will determine if the use of force was within the guidelines of department policy.”
"My initial impressions were the officers worked very, very hard to de-escalate and to help Mr. Marshall exit the building," said New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, who added both he and Reyes agreed the body camera footage had to be made public as soon as possible.
Marshall, who faces multiple charges, including assaulting a police officer, declined an on-camera interview request but told Fox 61 on the phone he plans to file a suit against the city for between $1-$3 billion.
The New Haven Police Union declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation.
Police responded to the building after a call from Marshall claiming he was being harassed about the eviction by building management.