Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting Leads to Protests in Racine

Jan 26, 2018

The police shooting death of a 26-year-old man in Racine has sparked protests in the city. According to reports from police, Donte Shannon fled on foot during a traffic stop and allegedly exposed a weapon, before he was shot by officers. He died on the way to the hospital.

Donte Shannon
Credit Facebook

The Wisconsin Department of Justice is leading an independent investigation of the incident. Racine residents say they're eager for answers.

During a news conference, Mayor Cory Mason and Racine Police Chief Art Howell updated the public on the status of the investigation into the death of Donte Shannon.

They released the names of the two officers involved, who’ve since been put on paid leave. They also announced that the state justice department is conducting the investigation.

That same night, a town hall meeting was held at City Hall. According to Mayor Mason, people lined up for about four hours to share their concerns about the fatal shooting.

“We had a lot of questions that we unfortunately couldn’t answer because the investigation is underway, and you know, I want answers to those questions as well, but people felt like they needed a space to be heard,” Mason says.

Mason also says residents asked broader policy questions -- such as why all Racine police don’t have body cameras. He says that's something the department is exploring.

Body cameras are expected to be a hot topic going forward, according to the Rev. Melvin D. Hargrove. He attended the town hall meeting, the press conference and a vigil held last weekend.

Hargrove says the atmosphere since the shooting has been charged, but peaceful. “I have been definitely proud of our community and how they have responded to it (the incident) even though there have been some who’ve been pretty upset about it, and rightfully so, there has still remained a sense of peace when it comes to what has happened even though people are still pretty upset after the event.”

Hargrove, the pastor at Zoe Ministries in Racine, says the city has a community policing model that has been helpful in establishing dialogue between the police department and residents.

In moments such as this, Hargrove says he hopes those conversations and relationships can prove helpful. “I really believe that if this is handled properly and it’s been given the leadership that’s necessary, I believe that we can get through this as well. Will tensions be tight for a while? I believe so because you have a young man that was shot and killed by police officers, but I believe depending on how we handle it as a community, so far as the leadership of the community, is how we will actually see the outcome,” he says.

According to Mayor Mason, the crime rate in Racine is at a 50-year low, officer-involved fatalities are rare, and the city is proud of its community policing model. However, he says he's well aware those measures don’t matter to the family of the man who was killed by police.

Mason is calling on residents and police officers to be patient and to keep an open mind, as the department of justice conducts its probe into the shooting. “What we’re going to do as a community is we’re going to listen to each other we’re going to respect each other, we’re going to reserve judgment on what happened until the investigation is complete and we’re going to move forward together.”

Services for Donte Shannon were held Friday. A Mount Pleasant funeral home handled the arrangements.