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Missoula Police Officer Cleared of Wrongdoing For Using Deadly Force [AUDIO]

Dawnette Eaton
photo by Peter Christian

Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir received a memo Thursday afternoon clearing Lieutenant Richard Stepper of any wrongdoing for using deadly force in the case of Dawnette Eaton.

Eaton has been accused of backing over and seriously injuring officer Deni Poling on January 7th to escape arrest on a probation violation. Stepper drew his weapon and ordered Eaton to stop. When she did not, he fired one round into the vehicle that struck Eaton in the arm. She eventually ditched the car, called a friend and was driven to her son’s apartment where she was eventually arrested.

Eaton is in the Missoula County Jail on $250,000 bond. She has been charged with felony escape, failure to stop at an accident scene involving an injured person, and assault with a weapon.

Chief Muir says officer Poling is recuperating at home and is being well looked-after by family and friends in the department. He describes Poling as “a resilient young woman”.

Muir says Stepped returned to his duties recently, and was thankful to be back at work. Muir says the employee assistance program has been helpful in assisting Stepper and other officers in dealing with the stress of the situation. He also thanked Sheriff Carl Ibsen and the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department for their excellent work in investigating the incident from the beginning.

Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir

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