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Wisconsin police officers cleared in shooting death of Donte Shannon

Donte Shannon

WDJT-TV

RACINE, Wis. -- Two Wisconsin police officers who fatally shot a black man they say ran from a traffic stop were justified in killing him because he displayed a handgun, a prosecutor announced Tuesday. The death of 26-year-old Donte Devel Shannon in the city of Racine on Jan. 17 "was a direct result of his deadly threat to the officers," Racine County District Attorney Tricia Hanson said.

The decision not to file charges against the officers left Shannon's family angry and disappointed Tuesday evening, CBS affiliate WDJT-TV reports.

According to a statement released by the D.A., there is no doubt that the gun was in Shannon's possession, and over a dozen witnesses corroborate hearing the officers order him to put down the weapon.

"Mr. Shannon suffered significant injuries to his right hand, his shooting hand, in a manner consistent with his hand being on the weapon and his finger on the trigger," the statement read. The gun itself was purchased and owned by Mr. Shannon's father.

Shannon's death sparked protests and marches in this small city about 25 miles south of Milwaukee, as family and local leaders demand answers about the circumstances of his death. In the weeks leading to Hanson's decision, Shannon's family and their supporters protested outside the courthouse demanding answers and calling for the officers to face charges.

After meeting with the D.A. Tuesday evening, Shannon's father told WDJT-TV reporters that he was not giving up. The family filed a federal lawsuit in February against the city of Racine, claiming the shooting was unjustified.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice investigated the shooting and sent its findings to the family. According to the report, the two officers - both of whom are white - approached Shannon because they received information that he had a gun and marijuana in his car. After conducting a background check, they also found he was a convicted felon on probation and parole and was driving without a license, the report said.

The officers said Shannon pulled into a driveway and began running away from them when he saw they were trying to initiate a stop. At some point during the chase, the officers said Shannon pointed a gun at them. The officers fired 20 shots, hitting Shannon five times. Neither officer was injured.

Even before the district attorney's decision, Shannon's family disputed the police account and last month filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the officers shot Shannon several times in the back while he was running and did not pose a threat.

Shannon's family alleges in their lawsuit that the officers knew him "from the neighborhood, knew that he was not violent, knew that he was a runner, and he was running away from the officer not toward him."