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Shannon wrongful death jury trial set for Oct.

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Ben Shannon (Rochester Police photo); and his mother and brother, Bev Shannon and Wayne Shannon, at April 2014 press conference announcing the lawsuit. (WMUR image)

BRENTWOOD, N.H. - The trial in a wrongful death lawsuit against four New Hampshire lawmen in the shooting death of Ben Shannon in March 2014 is slated to begin this fall, nearly 18 months after it was initially filed by Shannon's mother and brother.

The trial is expected to begin in October in Rockingham County Superior Court with jury selection on Oct. 3 following a final trial management hearing in late September.

Shannon was shot on March 10, 2014, as three New Hampshire Probation and Parole Officers and one Strafford County Sheriff's Deputy sought to arrest him on bail violations after he failed to show for an earlier court hearing. The bail conditions were in place after his arrest in a February convenience store robbery in Rochester.

Named in the lawsuit are Probation and Parole Officers Ian Stringer, Jason Wirth, and Benjamin Densmore along with Strafford County Sheriff Deputy Brian Hester.

A report released by the New Hampshire Attorney General's office in July 2014 found the officers' use of force justified.

The report, based on individual interviews with all four lawmen involved, as well as Shannon's mother, Beverly Shannon, and her roommate at a Sak's Trailer Park residence where the two lived, concluded that Probation and Parole officer Wirth fired the fatal shots after he thought Ben Shannon was pointing a gun at him and threatening police that he had a gun.

Wirth, looking into a darkened back bedroom from the adjoining bathroom, saw Ben Shannon raise a dark object, the report states, prompting Wirth to fire his weapon.

Shannon, 34, was shot three times, in the mid-back, the upper back and the left upper arm. The trajectory of the shot in the left upper arm lodged in his chest, while the other two exited his body. Two other rounds fired by lawmen missed altogether.

After the shooting Shannon was rushed to Frisbie Memorial Hospital then Medflighted to Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine, where he died later that night.

Beverly Shannon, and her other son, Wayne Shannon, announced the wrongful death lawsuit in April 2014, citing police used improper procedures in seeking to arrest Ben Shannon.

Their attorney, Peter McGrath, said lawmen made poor decisions the day of the incident, adding they should have set up a perimeter, called for backup and set up a safe scene to take Shannon into custody.

A final structuring order that spells out trial particulars was agreed to by both parties in November.

McGrath did not return a phone call seeking comment.

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