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Former Hamden police officer won't serve time for 2019 shooting

Stephanie Washington hugs her brother outside a courthouse in New Haven on Friday, May 27, after finding out the police officer who shot her would not serve time in prison.
Frankie Graziano
/
Connecticut Public
Stephanie Washington hugs her brother outside a courthouse in New Haven on Friday, May 27, after finding out the police officer who shot her would not serve time in prison.

A former Hamden police officer who shot at an unarmed Black man and woman in 2019 — wounding the woman — won’t serve time in prison.

A state court judge in New Haven on Friday placed Devin Eaton on probation and gave him 450 hours of community service.

Stephanie Washington was the woman Eaton shot. After the sentencing, she watched as Eaton hugged his family, and she cried.

“What is justice? Justice was not served today,” she said.

Washington told the court prior to the sentencing about how she lost her car and her job after the shooting. She also said she needed help getting around after it and still feels pain.

Judge Brian T. Fischer said he was troubled by Eaton’s “callous indifference to human life” when Eaton fired 13 shots during an encounter with Washington and Paul Witherspoon.

Still, he didn’t sentence Eaton to prison. Fischer said a suspended sentence and Eaton’s agreement to never be a police officer again were enough.

“In addition, the fact that the defendant entered a nolo plea, therefore not requiring the state to prove his guilt or put the victims through trial, is something that this court considered substantial,” Fischer said.

Eaton pleaded no contest earlier this year.

According to a state report, Eaton and a Yale police officer encountered Witherspoon and Washington around 4:30 a.m. on April 16, 2019. Investigators say they were responding to a report of an armed robbery. They also say that after Witherspoon got out of the car with his hands raised, Eaton fired 13 shots. Washington was wounded. Another bullet grazed the Yale officer.

Police say they searched for and didn’t find weapons on either Witherspoon or Washington.

On Friday in court, Eaton said he was “deeply sorry that Ms. Washington was injured during this incident by my hand.”

After the sentencing, a disappointed Washington said, “I was awake at every moment. My eyes were open. I heard every glass window break, and I just saw the guy who shot me walk free.”

Connecticut Public asked Eaton for comment after the sentencing, but he declined. Attorney Gregory Cerritelli said Eaton is ready to get on with his life.

“I think this was the right result,” Cerritelli said.

Frankie Graziano is the host of 'The Wheelhouse,' focusing on how local and national politics impact the people of Connecticut.

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