by Karléh Wilson
On Saturday, April 31st around 8 pm, Black New Haven resident Jeffrey Agnew went to Boss Liquor on Whalley Avenue with a female friend to buy alcohol. They intended to use the friend’s debit card for the transaction. A security guard immediately warned them that using someone else’s credit card is illegal—which they already knew, and never intended.
Agnew attempted to explain himself, but the conversation escalated. The store owner called the police, so Agnew and his friend decided to leave the liquor store without purchasing alcohol. By the time they left, the police were on their way. The police pulled up just as they reached their car.
Agnew reports that a police officer—one of nine who arrived on scene—asked him to step forward, which he did while attempting to explain the situation. The officer maced Agnew, who continued trying to explain himself. At this point, the officer began to beat Jeff with billy clubs.
Jeff was immediately knocked unconscious. He remembers waking up briefly with his face in the road, burning, and then coming to in the hospital, where he was handcuffed to the bed and prevented from speaking to his mother. He reports that the officers repeatedly lied to him about where he was and made him feel unsafe.
Officers arrested Agnew’s friend Tyeisha Hellams after she attempted to help him off the ground during the beating. Hellams recorded video of the violence on her cell phone. The video is in custody of community activist group Black Lives Matter New Haven and has yet to be released.
Hellams and Agnew were arrested and taken to jail under charges of misdemeanor and disorderly conduct. Both have $5,000 bail bonds. Both are members of the queer community in New Haven.
Black Lives Matter New Haven is currently coordinating a response, and welcomes support from Yale students. An open strategy meeting will be held today, May 2nd, at the People’s Center on 37 Howe Street (near Mamoun’s) at 7 pm. For further details, contact Karléh Wilson ’16 at firstname.lastname@example.org.