Cornelia Ehlebracht ’25
The Hartford Police Union has sought an apology from Connecticut Representative Maryam Khan for her statements criticizing their department in the aftermath of an attack she experienced last summer. Khan, who holds the distinction of being the first Muslim representative in Connecticut’s House, was assaulted at the XL Center in downtown Hartford while attending an Eid al-Adha prayer service on June 28, 2023. The incident has sparked a contentious debate about police-community relations and the need for accountability.
As reported by a July news article from NBC Connecticut, when Khan and her family were outside taking photos after the prayer service, a man approached them, made inappropriate comments, and then followed them inside the building. He targeted Khan, grabbing her face and shirt, demanding a kiss. Outside, he slapped her across the face and held her in a chokehold, eventually slamming her to the ground. Khan’s alleged attacker, Andrey Desmond, was apprehended by bystanders and faces charges including assault, unlawful restraint and interfering with police. In a recent development, Khan publicly supported an individual who she claimed had come to her defense during the incident, but subsequently also faced charges himself. Khan suffered a concussion and endured injuries to her arm and neck from the attack.
During a press conference, Khan described the attack, stating that she believed she was going to die. She also expressed her dissatisfaction with the police response and raised concerns about the safety of women in Hartford who call the police for assistance in similar situations. She criticized the police report, declaring that it downplayed the severity of the assault. The department initially described Khan’s injuries as “minor,” and Khan pointed out that the report did not mention the presence of her children or her religious affiliation. “Because if this is what’s happening to me and this is the best we can do, as a state representative who represents the city of Hartford, I cannot be okay with that. I’m not okay with that,” she said during the press conference on July 6, 2023.
Khan called for a federal investigation into the department’s handling of violent crimes, particularly those against women. Hartford Police Chief Jason Thody responded to Khan’s comments, expressing his sympathy for her and her family and assured a thorough investigation. In the months since the attack, both the Hartford Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division and the Hartford Civilian Police Review Board have conducted comprehensive investigations. The investigations found that despite some shortcomings in report writing documentation, the responding officers demonstrated exemplary professionalism.
In response, on Feb. 5, 2024, the Hartford Police Union issued a statement titled “Apology Owed” asserting that Khan’s comments possibly dissuaded individuals from pursuing police aid, specifically her suggestion that “Black and brown women are not safe in Hartford due to police ineptitude,” as reported by a February WTNH article. They urged Khan to approach the situation with patience and a willingness to learn about the complexities of law enforcement operations. The union called for a humble apology from Khan to the responding officers as a step toward rebuilding trust and fostering healing within the community. Stating, “Our communities rely on all of us, including those in positions of power and influence, to work together responsibly and respectfully. Let us strive for excellence and unity, recognizing that perfection is a continual aspiration,” according to a February article from Fox61.