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DA clears officer in fatal shooting

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GINA R. HEINE
December 23, 2011
— A town of Beloit police officer acted "lawfully and in accordance to his duty" when he shot and killed a Rockford, Ill., man in a bowling alley parking lot last month, Rock County District Attorney David O'Leary ruled Thursday.

Sgt. Richard Felger was protecting his own life and the lives of many others in and around the parking lot of Rex Lanes, 2547 Park Ave., when multiple gunshots were fired at about 1:44 a.m. Nov. 6, O'Leary said.


Darryl Cooper, 26, was "shot and killed by Sgt. Felger as a direct result of Cooper's own actions," O'Leary concluded.


Felger was shot in the leg, while Cooper was shot multiple times. O'Leary commended Felger for his actions in preventing further loss of life.


According to a news release from O'Leary's office:


The gunfire started when Cooper shot three times and injured a person Cooper had gotten into an altercation with earlier in the night. The Wisconsin Department of Justice would not release that person's name at this time, spokeswoman Dana Brueck said.


Felger was on patrol in the parking lot and heard the gunshots. Felger saw Cooper run from the area while trying to conceal a handgun in his pants.


Felger confronted Cooper and twice ordered him to show his hands.


Felger pursued Cooper as he ran around vehicles in the parking lot. Cooper turned toward Felger, pointed a semi-automatic handgun at Felger and fired six shots at the officer.


When Cooper opened fire, Felger returned fire.


Felger was shot in the leg, requiring surgery at Beloit Memorial Hospital. He was able to call for additional assistance, and numerous officers from surrounding agencies and emergency medical services responded.


Cooper was taken to the hospital where he later died as a result of his injuries.


Felger's recovery is going well, Chief Steve Kopp said, but he is not expected to return to work until February.


Felger, an eight-year veteran of the department, recently underwent follow-up surgery.


O'Leary reviewed the police reports, autopsy findings, video and audio recordings of the incident, Wisconsin State Crime lab reports and numerous eye witness statements in concluding that it was "abundantly clear" Felger acted appropriately, according to the news release.


The state Division of Criminal Investigation led the investigation with assistance from the Rock County Sheriff's Office and city of Beloit police.



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