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Connecticut woman shot by officer gets $1.1M settlement

HAMDEN, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut woman who was seriously injured when a police officer opened fire on her and her boyfriend as they sat in a car unarmed has settled a lawsuit over the shooting for about $1.1 million.

Stephanie Washington was struck four times when Hamden officer Devin Eaton fired 13 bullets at the stopped car in New Haven on April 16, 2019, according to her lawsuit and a prosecutor's investigation that found the shooting unjustified. She suffered multiple injuries, including spine and hip area fractures, a graze wound to her forehead and enduring trauma, the lawsuit said.

The shooting sparked several protests. Eaton, who resigned from the force last year, was charged with felony assault, pleaded no contest and was sentenced to probation and community service — punishment that also drew criticism from Washington and her supporters for being too lenient.

Eaton and the town of Hamden, two of several defendants in the federal court lawsuit, did not admit liability in the settlement, which was first reported Wednesday by the New Haven Register after it obtained a copy through a public records request.

“I’m glad that it’s been resolved,” Hamden Mayor Lauren Garrett told the Register.

Phone and email messages seeking comment were left for Washington, her lawyer and Eaton's attorney Wednesday.

Eaton stopped the couple’s car in New Haven because it matched the description of a car linked to a reported attempted robbery in Hamden, police said. Washington’s boyfriend, Paul Witherspoon III, was driving and Washington was in the passenger seat.

Eaton’s body-camera video showed Witherspoon starting to exit the car and appearing to raise his hands when Eaton begins shooting. Witherspoon then quickly got back into the vehicle. He was not injured. Eaton believed Witherspoon had a gun, officials said.

A Yale University officer, Terrance Pollock, fired his gun three times at the car. A prosecutor found his shooting to be justified because he believed Eaton and Witherspoon were exchanging gunfire. Pollock suffered a graze wound from a bullet fired by Eaton, officials said.

Advocates including the state NAACP and local clergy protested the shooting. Washington, Witherspoon, Eaton and Pollock are Black.

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