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Hamden police officer charged in April shooting

NEW HAVEN --  A Hamden police officer was arrested Monday and charged with assault and reckless endangerment as a result of the use of force in an April incident in New Haven that left a woman wounded.

Devin Eaton

Devin Eaton, 29, was arrested by Connecticut State Police on a warrant charging him with one count of Assault in the First Degree and two counts of Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree.

Officials also released a report on the shooting. 

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, the charges are the result of an investigation of the  April 16 shooting  on Argyle Street in New Haven.  Hamden police were investigating a report of a possible armed robbery at a gas station.

While investigating, police found a car suspected to be involved on Argyle Street and Dixwell Avenue over the town line in New Haven. Paul Witherspoon III, 21, and his girlfriend, Stephanie Washington, 22,  were in the car.

Hamden Officer Devin Eaton and Yale University Terrance Pollock, confronted the suspects of the car. A total of 16 shots were fired by police. Eaton fired 13 shots and Pollock fired three. Washington was shot and suffered non-life threatening injuries. Witherspoon was not injured.

"The warrant states that a New Haven woman was wounded as a result of the use of force by Eaton involving a motor vehicle stopped on Argyle Street. The driver of the car sustained minor non-gunshot injuries, the warrant states. Neither the driver nor the passenger were charged as a result of the incident, the warrant states," said officials in a press release.

You can read the full arrest warrant below:

Acting Chief of Police John Cappiello issued a statement regarding the arrest of Officer Devin Eaton:

“New Haven State’s Attorney Patrick J. Griffin announced today that he has completed his review of the shooting that occurred in New Haven on April 16, 2019 involving Hamden Police Officer Devin Eaton. The prosecutor has decided to charge Officer Eaton with the crime of Assault in the First degree, 2 counts Reckless Endangerment First Degree. Officer Eaton turned himself into the Connecticut State Police and was released after posting bond.

The prosecutor’s decision clears the way for the Ethics and Integrity Unit (commonly known as internal affairs) of the Hamden Police Department to complete its investigation of Officer Eaton’s conduct. At the State’s Attorney’s request, the formal interview of Office Eaton by internal affairs was postponed during the State Police investigation and the prosecutor’s deliberations.

The Ethics and Integrity Unit will continue to use the services of independent consultant Jeffrey Noble while it completes the internal affairs report. It will then be the responsibility of the Chief of Police to make a recommendation to the Police Commission concerning what action to take concerning Officer Eaton. The deadline for issuance of a departmental complaint against Officer Eaton will be approximately 30 days from today.

Under the Town Charter, the Police Commission has the sole power to remove police personnel. Under the collective bargaining agreement that covers police officers, only the Police Commission can impose discipline in excess of a five-day suspension. When deciding whether to remove an officer or impose other disciplines, the Police Commission first receives a recommendation from the Chief of Police.

Officer Eaton is currently on administrative leave. As required by Section 46.3(B) the collective bargaining agreement, this has been a paid leave. Once the State’s Attorney brings felony charges in accordance with today’s announcement, however, it will be converted to unpaid leave.

Officer Eaton is entitled to the presumption of innocence, like any other accused individual, and is presumed innocent of the criminal charges until convicted by a jury of his peers in a court of law.”

David McGuire, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut issued a statement on Eaton's arrest:

“Regardless of the outcome of this one case, true police accountability still does not exist in Connecticut. Police accountability will not exist until every level of government works to prevent police violence and to hold police employees responsible each time they hurt or kill someone, not just in cases when hundreds of people have taken to the streets in protest.

Justice would have been Devin Eaton never shooting Stephanie Washington in the first place. Justice would have been the City of Hamden’s Board of Police Commissioners following the City’s own law by accepting residents’ complaints about Eaton’s violence. Justice would have been the City of Hamden firing Devin Eaton months ago.

There are still many ways in which justice has not been served in this case, and there are still many ways it can go wrong. The ACLU of Connecticut will be watching this case closely.”

Eaton was released on $100,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court on October 28.

Interactive map of key points (for best results, view full screen and click items in the left menu in order. For items 3 to 11, zoom in to the area of the shooting.)

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