‘I thought I was going to die:' Connecticut lawmaker criticizes police after attack

State Rep. Maryam Khan (D-Windsor) is asking the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the Hartford Police Department’s response.

John Craven

Jul 6, 2023, 9:31 PM

Updated 316 days ago


After a violent attack outside a Muslim prayer event last week, a Connecticut state lawmaker is demanding an investigation – of the police. State Rep. Maryam Khan (D-Windsor) is asking the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the Hartford Police Department’s response.
“This is the best we can do?” she said on Thursday. “We screamed inside and outside, and nobody came to our aid. No security, no police, nobody.”
With her arm in a sling, Khan tearfully spoke about the incident for the first time at a state Capitol complex news conference.
Police say Khan was attacked outside an Eid al-Adha prayer service at the XL Center last Wednesday. Andrey Desmond, 30, of New Britain, is charged with third-degree assault, second-degree unlawful restraint, second-degree breach of peace and interfering with police. He is being held on $250,000 bond.
Khan said it all started as she was taking pictures with her kids outside the building. She said Desmond approached her and made sexual advances toward her – and her two daughters. After following her inside the XL Center, Khan said the man slapped her, put her in a chokehold and ultimately slammed her to the ground.
“I was going to give up, and I was no longer going to fight because I knew I was going to die,” she told reporters.
Khan said she suffered a concussion and still has no feeling in her right shoulder. But she said the police response is even more disturbing.
“There was no ambulance, there was no one there to provide medical attention. I remember feeling that I had to convince them I was injured,” she said. “What was the most difficult these last few days, was seeing that the police report did not reflect everything, or anything, that happened to me.”
Hartford Police Chief Jason Thody said the initial police report has since been updated, and the department is working to release body camera footage of the response.
“We will review every aspect of our response and we always want to get better and do better, and we take seriously the importance of responding not just as the law requires, but to ensure that we are working with partners to support victims in every way possible,” he said in a statement” We are continuing to investigate this assault thoroughly and we are working closely with the state’s attorney.”
A spokesperson for the XL Center referred questions to police.
Khan said she doesn't know if she was targeted because she's Muslim. Hartford police have said they don’t believe this is a hate crime and may be related to mental health issues. During his arraignment, prosecutors said Desmond has a long criminal history in New York and Washington, D.C.
Regardless, Khan wants a federal review of how Hartford police handle assault cases.
“So many systems failed that day. And I know that our systems are not perfect; this is why I ran for office,” she said. “But they cannot be this broken.”

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