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.
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.
“They keep saying that they had the right to shoot him, that he pointed a gun at both of them, but I don’t believe my stepbrother would do anything like that,” said Darius Mayweather, according to the Journal Times .
The Wisconsin Department of Justice investigated the shooting and sent its findings to Hanson. 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.”
Racine is a city of about 77,500 people that’s about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Milwaukee.