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Attorney: Former Marine did not threaten troopers before being fatally shot in North Union

| Wednesday, July 3, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Pennsylvania State Police troopers responding to a domestic dispute in North Union were under no threat when they opened fire and fatally shot a retired U.S. Marine, an attorney representing the man's family said Tuesday.

“Sometimes the police fib,” said Pittsburgh attorney Joel Sansone. “And it looks like their account has some holes in it.”

State police did not return calls seeking more information on Tuesday.

Authorities said the officers, whom state police have not identified, retreated when Shawn E. Knight pointed two handguns at them as they attempted to enter his home at 52 Rose Blvd. about 10:40 p.m. Friday.

The officers fired four to six shots when they said Knight, 50, failed to follow their orders to put down the weapons, striking Knight three times in the torso.

Knight was taken by ambulance to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, W.Va., where he was pronounced dead.

The officers' account differs from what Knight's wife and some neighbors witnessed, Sansone said.

According to Sansone, Knight heard a commotion outside his home along Rose Boulevard, grabbed two handguns and went to the front door.

Sansone said Knight held the guns at his side — behind the solid part of a screen door — so the troopers couldn't have seen them from their vantage point.

He said the troopers did not tell Knight to throw down his weapons before they opened fire.

“My initial investigation shows that police were under no threat,” Sansone said.

The troopers were not harmed.

They were placed on administrative duty, which is standard state police procedure.

Fayette County District Attorney Jack Heneks said police have retrieved video surveillance tapes from two police cruisers, Knight's home and other video cameras posted along Rose Boulevard.

Sansone said his private investigator will continue to interview witnesses before he decides whether to file a federal civil lawsuit if it appears the officers used excessive force.

“He was a good man who raised a good family,” he said.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.

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