Western Montana Crime News

Jan 8, 2013 3:06 PM by Mark Thorsell - KPAX News

Missoula officer still hospitalized after being hit by fleeing suspect

MISSOULA - The police officer who was run over by a fleeing suspect Monday evening in Missoula is still in the hospital, suffering from what are described by Missoula Police Captain Scott Hoffman, as "serious injuries".

Patrol Officer Deni Poling was run over by wanted parole violator, Dawnette Eaton, who was apparently attempting to escape from the officers when they approached in her vehicle in the McDonald's parking lot on East Broadway, Hoffman said in a news release.

Poling was taken to St. Patrick Hospital and underwent surgery for serious injuries sustained when the vehicle apparently knocked her to the ground and drove over her while trying to leave the scene, according to Hoffman.

MPD Patrol Supervisor Lt. Rich Stepper had contact with Eaton, and was attempting to identify her as the parole violator when she put her vehicle in gear, ignored Stepper's orders and backed up, hitting Poling.

Hoffman says that Stepper saw what was happening, and according to a public safety statement made to Chief Mark Muir at the scene, Stepper drew his weapon and fired one shot at the suspect to stop the driver.

Eaton fled the scene while Stepper attended to his injured partner and called for medical aid,

Stepper, a 21 year veteran of the force, is now on paid administrative leave while the MPD Office of Professional Standards conducts an internal review of the officer involved shooting, which is department policy.

Hoffman says the Missoula County Sheriff's Office was asked to conduct the investigation into Eaton's criminal conduct during this event.

Eaton is currently on probation, with authorities saying there's a $150,000 warrant for her arrest. She has previous convictions out of Butte Silver Bow, Gallatin and Missoula counties on theft, forgery and drug charges, dating back to 1993.

Missoula County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jason Johnson says Eaton will not be officially charged until she is released from the hospital and taken into custody, which he says is standard procedure.

Detectives and the Missoula County Attorney's Office are working to finalize which charges will be filed, according to Johnson.

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