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Hamden man, target of 2019 police shooting arrested on gun charges

Officials say 22-year-old Paul Witherspoon was stopped Wednesday night after a registration check revealed the license plate on the car he was driving was false.
Credit: New Haven PD
Paul Witherspooon

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Police say a man who was at the center of an officer-involved shooting last Spring was arrested this week on gun charges.

RELATED: State police release video of officer involved shooting in New Haven

According to a release, 22-year-old Paul Witherspoon, of Hamden was stopped Wednesday night after a registration check revealed the license plate on the car he was driving was false.

Officials said members of the Shooting Task Force were traveling on Henry Street towards Dixwell Avenue around 8 p.m., and were directly behind an older model orange/red colored Chevrolet Cavalier.

However, the license plate came back to a 2008 tan Chevrolet Impala, according to New Haven PD Captain Anthony Duff.

Capt. Duff said in a release that once pulled over, Witherspoon exited the car and began to walk towards the sidewalk before officers told him to walk back to the driver's side of his car.

Witherspoon then told police that his license, registration, and proof of insurance were all at home.

Police said while he attempted to look for paperwork in the glove box, they noticed marijuana in the car.

According to officials, Witherspoon told them that the marijuana was the only illegal object in the car, however he was asked to take his young child from the back seat of the vehicle so they could inspect it.

That's when detectives saw the butt end of a shotgun on the front passenger side floorboard, Capt. Duff said.

The New Haven Bureau of Identification was called to the scene to collect the shotgun that was determined to be loaded. Officials said the front of the gun was sawed off to make the barrel shorter.

Below is a photo of the gun seized from the vehicle.

Credit: New Haven PD
Seized weapon

After continuing their search, police located multiple shotgun shells throughout the car, as well as 7.62 ammunition.

Witherspoon did not have a pistol permit, officials said. He was arrested without incident and was charged with the following:

  • Weapon in a motor vehicle
  • Possession of a sawed off shotgun
  • Loaded shotgun in a motor vehicle
  • Risk of injury to a child
  • Possession of a controlled substance
  • A motor vehicle violation

Capt. Duff said Witherspoon's family arrived on scene to take custody of his child.

Witherspoon was also arrested in last August after reportedly striking a bicyclist and leading police on a pursuit. 

RELATED: PD: Hamden man, target of police shooting in April, charged with DUI, fleeing scene after striking New Haven bicyclist

Months before, Witherspoon had a different and more dangerous run-in with police.

Hamden Police officer Devin Eaton and a Yale University officer shot at Witherspoon's car in New Haven on April 16 after Eaton stopped it while investigating a reported attempted robbery.

Officials say Eaton fired 13 times after the driver, Paul Witherspoon III, got out of the car unexpectedly.

Witherspoon wasn’t injured. His girlfriend, Stephanie Washington, was seriously injured but survived.

The Yale officer was not charged.

Eaton plead not guilty to assault and reckless endangerment charges.

RELATED: Hamden PD recommendation: Officer in New Haven shooting incident should be fired

RELATED: Hamden officer charged in shooting pleads not guilty

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