A Yale University graduate student who made waves around the nation for calling the campus police on a napping Black graduate student is now calling for the bodycam footage she believes will exonerate her to be released.
Sarah Braasch went viral when she called the Yale Police Department in May 2018. She had discovered fellow graduate student Lolade Siyonbola asleep in a common room. The aftermath of their confrontation was streamed on Siyonbola’s Facebook Live.
Braasch dialed the YPD’s non-emergency line to report that a stranger was sleeping in the common area next door to her dorm room on the 12th floor of the Hall of Graduate Studies, which at the time she was the only occupant of, Yale Daily News reported.
Once police arrived officers requested to see Siyonbola’s ID.
“This is (inaudible) building and we need to make sure you belong here,” a female officer told the Ivy League student, who offered to unlock her apartment in an effort to prove that she lived on campus.
“I just opened the door to my apartment … I wanna think about whether I wanna show [my ID] to you or not because I really don’t think there’s justification for you even being in the building,” Siyonbola said.
Meanwhile, Braasch tweeted the following month about the “pain of having everything you’ve worked for your entire life ripped from you in a matter of moments when you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong.”
Now, the 44-year-old is attempting to ease that pain by obtaining police bodycam footage of the incident to share her side of the story, according to Yale Daily News. Braasch filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the video, which the YPD refused when the request was first filed this summer.
On Nov. 4 a hearing was held in front of the state of Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Commission in Hartford. Braasch, her attorney Jay Wolman, YPD Chief Ronnell Higgins and his lawyer Aaron Bayer all spoke in front of FOI Commission counsel Danielle McGee. The YPD claimed that the footage includes unconfirmed allegations, which excuses them from issuing it to Braasch.
During the YPD’s cross-examination, Higgins said, “No claim of trespass or harassment was corroborated.” This was in response to Braasch arguing that police said she could contact them at any time following her report of harassment previous to this incident, which the department said is something afforded to all students.
McGee and her committee will decide on releasing the footage by July 2020. The student said she plans to share the video with the public if she does obtain it so she can share her perspective on what occurred.
Higgins stated that the YPD offered to allow Braasch to see the requested video in person, but she refused the offer, according to the New Haven Register.
But Braasch told the publication she wants the videos in her position so she can release herself from what she describes as vilification.
“I just feel that the videos exonerate me and I feel that they expose Yale’s gross malfeasance,” said a post-court Braasch, who claimed campus police who responded to her call that day, were “very hostile to me.” “I’ve been vilified on a global scale as somebody akin to a genocidal villain and I’ll never be able to get a job again.”
Braasch also recalled of this incident that she “had been harassed all evening and that room had been used to harass me for months,” alleging Siyonbola’s reached out from under the blanket with her phone in her hand, something, Braasch claimed, “was very confused by and I interpreted as very hostile.”
Braasch, who purports to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, further spoke out on Twitter saying, “I’m not emotionally strong right now, & I don’t think I would survive another mobbing. I’m going to speak with my mentors. But, I will never stop fighting for justice.”
Siyonbola, meanwhile, has yet to speak out about Braasch’s FOIA filing or hearing on social media.
Editors note: A previous version of this story incorrectly featured an image of Faith Chumo, who is not related to this incident. The story has been updated to include the correct photo of Lolade.