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Jan 24, 2013 6:46 PM by Irina Cates - KPAX News

Review: Missoula officer acted properly in shooting suspect

MISSOULA - A Missoula Police internal review found that a lieutenant acted properly when he shot a fleeing suspect who backed allegedly over his partner with a car in early January.

It was a terrifying, yet unifying experience for the Missoula Police Department when Officer Deni Poling was run over by the woman she was trying to arrest.

"In some of these really intense emotions and things, that officers truly do pull together and are there to support each other. And we also see tremendous support from the community as a result of that as well," says Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir.

Poling and patrol supervisor Lieutenant Rich Stepper responded to the McDonald's on East Broadway on January 7 to arrest Dawnette Eaton for violating her probation.

Poling and Stepper approached Eaton while she was in her car in the parking lot of the restaurant and told her she was under arrest. That's when Eaton allegedly put her car in reverse, cranked the steering wheel, ran over Poling and kept driving. Before she got away, Stepper shot Eaton in the arm.

"The report that's been provided to me, the memo, indicates that Lt. Stepper's use of force was within policy and was within statutory guidelines," Muir said.

He says events like this serve as a harsh reminder of the realities that law enforcement face.

"Unfortunately, we sometimes take it for granted that the police officers are out there doing a dangerous job and I think even police officers take that for granted at times," said Muir.

Stepper is now back at work and Poling is out of the hospital and she's continuing to recover from her injuries at home.

Muir says there will not be any department policy changes as a result of this incident.

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