Devin Eaton is a Hamden, Connecticut police officer who shot an unarmed woman named Stephanie Washington early Tuesday morning after responding to a report of a possible attempted armed robbery. His identity was confirmed on Wednesday, per The New Haven Independent.
Another officer, employed by Yale, also reportedly fired at the car which held Washington and a man named Paul Witherspoon. That officer has not been identified.
Following news of the incident, during which Washington sustained injuries that sent her to the hospital, dozens of protestors stood outside Hamden police headquarters on Tuesday afternoon.
No charges have been filed against Eaton, as of April 16. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Say Eaton Asked Witherspoon to Get Out of the Car, & He Did So in an ‘Abrupt Manner’
According to the version of events as told by State Trooper Josue Dorelus (you can watch the full press conference here), Eaton and the unidentified Yale officer were given a 911 dispatch call at approximately 4:19 in the morning, which had to do with an attempted armed robbery at a gas station in Hamden. Dorelus said the victim was a newspaper delivery man, leading the officers to believe the suspect had a weapon. The suspect then fled the scene, Dorelus said, and shortly after the police were able to find the suspect, block the vehicle in, and approach the car that held Witherspoon and Washington.
Dorelus further explained,
“While trying to make contact with that party, the suspected party exited the vehicle in an abrupt manner, turned towards officers, at which point officers fired at least one round at the suspect. During the course of the incident, the female passenger…was struck at least one time in the torso…the front seat passenger was then transported to Yale New Haven hospital, where she is currently listed as stable.”
When a reporter pointed out that surveillance video (shown in fact 3) shows how quickly one of the officers fired at the car, throwing doubt upon the statement that there was time for the officers to tell the “suspects” to get out of the car, Dorelus replied, “Like I stated earlier, the officers attempted to make contact…with the suspected individual that attempted the armed robbery. That individual exited the vehicle in an abrupt manner, at which point officers engaged in open fire.”
2. Eaton Received His Training at New Haven Police Academy
According to New Haven Independent, Eaton trained to become an officer at New Haven Police Academy. The publication reports that he attended a private school in the area, St. Michael School, and went to police academy following that. He was sworn in as a New Haven police officer in 2015, then resigned from the New Haven force in 2016 to work for the town of Hamden. He is now on administrative leave.
Eaton has not given a public statement on the incident. However, several individuals in the New Haven and Hamden area have. Local Rev. Boise Kimber said at one press conference, “What is the training procedure of Yale? What is the training procedure of Hamden? Apparently there are different avenues of training.”
3. Surveillance Video Shows the Exact Moment Where the Gunfire Began
In the surveillance footage above, you can see the exact moment where the officers began to shoot, but you can’t see how Witherspoon exited the car. Several reporters asked Dorelus about the confusion around the timeline of events, but Dorelus repeated that the officers only began to shoot once Witherspoon got out of the car in an “abrupt movement.”
4.. No Charges Have Been Filed Against Eaton or the Yale Cop, But an Investigation is Forthcoming
As of yet, no charges have been filed against Eaton or the unidentified Yale officer, but an investigation into the incident is forthcoming.
During a press conference, Hamden Acting Police Chief John Cappiello said, “I’m not going to comment on the investigation. An internal affairs investigation will be conducted. We’ll have to wait for that outcome.”
5. Witherspoon, 21, Is a Father to a One-Year-Old Baby; He Has Since Spoken Out About the Incident
Witherspoon and Washington are boyfriend and girlfriend, according to several publications; Washington, 21, also has a young child, but it’s unclear if that child is from his relationship with Washington.
To local New Haven affiliate News 8, Witherspoon shared his version of events. He said he didn’t think he would survive the incident, explaining that the cop told him to “put your f*cking hands up and get the f*ck out of the car.”
Witherspoon said he didn’t even have time to lift his hands up into the air before officers began shooting.