HAMDEN, CT (WFSB) - Connecticut state police said Monday morning an arrest was made in connection with an officer-involved shooting that happened in New Haven in April.
Hamden Officer Devin Eaton, 29, was charged with first-degree assault and two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment, according to the state's attorney's office.
He was released on a $100,000 bond and is due in New Haven Superior Court on Oct. 28.
The report from the state's attorney's office can be read here.
Eaton's arrest warrant was also released on Monday and can be found here.
Eaton and Yale University officer Terrance Pollock opened fire on a vehicle driven by Paul Witherspoon on April 26, according to state police. According to the reports, Eaton fired his weapon 13 times. Witherspoon's passenger, Stephanie Washington, was hit but recovered.
Investigators said Eaton believed Witherspoon's vehicle matched one that was involved in an armed robbery in Hamden.
Witherspoon told police he was following orders to get out of the car when the bullets started to fly.
“I was trying to take cover from the gunshots, so I was leaning in between the driver and passenger seats, towards the back seat. It was like being in a nightmare. I thought I was going to die," Washington said to police according to the arrest warrant.
While Eaton was charged, Pollock was found to be justified in firing his weapon. According to the state's attorney's report, from Pollock's vantage point, he heard a series of gunshots and believed that gunfire was exchanged. Pollock believed his cruiser was struck by gunfire and was even wounded by a shot fired by Eaton.
In the report, New Haven State's Attorney Patrick Green said that even if an argument can be made that the first shot was reasonable, believing Witherspoon had a gun, it wasn't reasonable to continue shooting when he retreated, never returned fire, and moved towards the passenger side, still shooting, knowing someone was sitting there.
“He recklessly engaged in conduct which created a risk of death, and thereby caused serious physical injury to Washington. Additionally, the reckless manner in which the shots were discharged placed those in the immediate vicinity, including Paul Witherspoon and Officer Pollock, at risk for serious physical injury," Green said in the report.
In the aftermath of the shooting, investigators said no weapon was ever found. Neither Witherspoon nor Washington were charged.
The incident sparked statewide protests over racial profiling.
"You’ll probably never be satisfied with the charges, but the charges are based upon the law and what the state attorney came up with, were within the law," said Rev. Boise Kimber, First Calvary Baptist Church.
Eaton was placed on administrative leave after the incident. Now, he'll be on unpaid leave.
He's due in court next week.
His attorney released a statement on Monday saying "The job of a police officer is a difficult one, and that job has been made even more difficult by the arrest of Officer Eaton. Police officers are called upon to make split-second decisions that often require the exercise of discretion and judgment. Officer Eaton’s arrest sends a dangerous but clear and unambiguous message to the men and women who are sworn to protect the people of this state: You better be 100 percent right 100 percent of the time, and if you are not, you will face criminal prosecution. I can only hope Office Eaton’s arrest will not cause other officers to hesitate when confronted with similar circumstances."
Meanwhile, the Hamden Police Department said its ethics and integrity unit will conduct its own investigation. The chief will then make a recommendation to the police commission about whether or not Eaton should be fired or face discipline. That's expected to happen within 30 days.
“We cannot change the past, but we can all strive to do better everyday moving forward," said Hamden Mayor Curt Leng.
Pollock is on paid leave.
The ACLU released a statement on Monday that said "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."