Yale Responds To Officer Holding Student At Gunpoint

An email addressing the incident on the Yale campus when a student was stopped by campus police at gunpoint was sent out by President Peter Salovey of Yale University.

The email said, “Many in our community felt personal pain upon reading accounts of this incident on social media and in the press as they saw national debates about race, policing and the use of force become a very local and very personal story. We share these feelings and recognize that the interest in and reaction to this incident underscore that the work of making our campus and society more inclusive, just, and safe remains an imperative for all of us.

“Let us be clear: we have great faith in the Yale Police Department and admire the professionalism that its officers displayed on a daily basis to keep our campus safe. What happened on Cross Campus on Saturday is not a replay of what happened in Ferguson; Staten Island; Cleveland; or so many other places in our time and over time in the United States. The officer, who himself I African American, was responding to a specific description relayed by individuals who had reported a crime in progress.

Even though the officer’s decision to stop and detain the student may have been reasonable, the fact that he drew his weapon during the stop requires a careful review. For this reason, the Yale Police Department’s Internal Affairs unit is conducting a thorough and expeditious investigation of the circumstances surrounding the incident, and will report the findings of that investigation to us. We, in turn will share the findings with the community. We ask that you allow us the time needed to collect and examine the facts from everyone involved.”

The student detained on Saturday, Tahj Blow, is the son of notable author and New York Times columnist Charles Blow. Upon hearing of his son’s experience, Blow took to Twitter to unleash his feelings in a series of tweets.

Blow wrote about the incident in an article on Monday that describe his son’s experience.

According to Tahj, he was on his way to his dorm room after spending some time in the library when he noticed a campus police officer heading towards another building on campus. Blow quotes Tahj as saying, “I did not pay him any mind, and continued to walk back towards my room. I looked behind me, and notice that the police officer was following me. He spoke into his shoulder-mounted radio and said, ‘I got him’”

Tahj was then told to turn around by the officer, which he did and found himself face to face with a gun.

He was let go after the officer realized he wasn’t the suspect he was searching for. Tahj soon placed a call to Blow to inform him of what had just happened.

Blow asks the question wondered by many: Why did the officer draw his weapon without reason?

In Monday’s article, Blow wrote “What if my son had panicked under the stress, having never had a gun pointed at him before, and made what the officer considered a “suspicious” movement? Had I come to close to losing him? Triggers cannot be unpulled. Bullets cannot be called back.”

“I am reminded of what I have always known, but what some would choose to deny: that there is no way to work your way out – earn your way out – of this sort of crisis. In these moment, what you’ve done matters less than how you look,” Blow wrote. “There is no amount of respectability that can bend a gun’s barrel. All of our boys are bound together.”

Tahj Blow is now back in class and has moved forward from the incident, but he will likely never forget his experience or how easily things could have turned to tragedy.

“He realizes that there are other young people who have fewer privileges, less access and endure even greater traumas, but whose stories go unreported until something truly tragic happens. He wants the focus to remain on them. I couldn’t be prouder of him for have the wisdom to recognize that,” said Blow.

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