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Donte Shannon’s family acknowledges the 26-year-old didn’t always do the right thing when he was alive, but they struggle with not knowing the circumstances around his death and wonder why he was shot so many times.
Shannon fled on foot following a traffic stop and brandished a gun. A witness reported hearing officers tell Donte several times to drop the gun. He was shot Wednesday in the 1400 block of Park Avenue by Racine Police officers Chad Stillman and Peter Boeck.
Now officials with the Wisconsin Department of Justice are investigating the shooting and are expected to report their findings to the Racine County District Attorney’s Office. Donte’s father Nakia Shannon said his son was shot 17 times, but that detail has not been confirmed by the DOJ.
At a town hall meeting Monday night, hundreds of community members, family, and friends filled the common council chambers at City Hall. Alderman John Tate II and Racine Mayor Cory Mason called the meeting so the community could ask questions about the shooting.
“We want you to have the opportunity to say your peace and know that you are being listened to,” Tate said. “So ask questions, but know that we don’t have the answers. We will, however, work to get them from the Department of Justice.”
Attendees questioned where the gun was that Donte had when he ran from police, why Stillman and Boeck stopped Donte in the first place, why the officers didn’t have body cameras, and what the department’s procedures were around the use of force.
“I hurt. I hurt for my family. But most of all, I hurt for my grandbaby who is never going to have her daddy,” Nakia said.
But Donte’s criminal history is peppered with drug charges of possession of marijuana, a hit-and-run, bail jumping, gun possession, and obstructing police. Some of those charges were dismissed, others were not over the past 10 years.
“He may have done some things wrong, but he never did anything violent and never should have been shot 17 times,” Nakia said.
Witness: Police yelled at Donte to drop the gun
While police have released limited information regarding Donte’s death, the Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating the matter because it was an officer-involved shooting.
According to a press release by the DOJ, Stillman and Boeck had conducted a traffic stop near the intersection of 14th and Villa street. Fleeing on foot, officers chased Donte to the 1400 block of Park Avenue where he brandished a firearm and Stillman and Boeck responded by shooting him, according to a press release by the DOJ.
A witness, who did not want to be named, heard police screaming at Donte to “put the gun down, give up the gun and drop the gun” numerous times before she heard the sound of gunshots ring out.
“I saw two officers using my neighbor’s car to protect themselves. They looked frantic and moved back and forth behind the car like they were trying to keep out of the way,” she said.
They continued to yell at Donte to drop the gun. More shots rang out. While this was happening, the woman searched for her husband, who was outside bringing the garbage cans in. When she didn’t see him, she ran back to the window and heard the officers asking dispatchers for more backup and screaming: “Get the shield.”
The woman couldn’t see Donte, but she did see an ambulance and the stretcher.
“Mr. Shannon passed away while being transported to a local hospital by paramedics,” the press release reads.
Stillman and Boeck were not injured during the shooting. They were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the DOJ investigation. Stillman has been in law enforcement for 15 years while Boeck has been in law enforcement for 16 years for the Racine Police Department.
“DCI is continuing to collect evidence and determine the facts of this incident and will turn over investigative reports to the Racine County District Attorney when the investigation concludes,” the press release reads.
Call made for citizens review board
Donte’s death serves as a flashpoint for Racine because it was recently named as the fourth worst place for African Americans. A number of community members speaking at the town hall voiced their lack of faith in the Racine Police Department.
Chairman of the Lake County chapter of Black Lives Matter Clyde McLemore said the department needed a citizen review board because the community has voiced other issues.
“A human life was taken and youth are scared… 17 times, now that’s overkill,” he said.
But Nakia is quick to point out that there are many other details that they just don’t know, but they do know how many times Donte was shot.
“Me, my cousin, my auntie, and my dad… we counted every bullet hole, the in and out of each bullet… I have pictures,” Nakia said.
Donte had a role in Harry Canady Jr. shooting
At the town hall meeting, Nakia talked Monday night about Donte cooperating with police in the murder of Harry Canady Jr., which happened in May. Donte drove Dominique Knight — who was charged in the homicide — to where Canady was when he was shot. Donte cooperated in the investigation but he was never charged by the Racine County District Attorney’s Office.
“So you put him back in jail for seven months on a probation violation and put him on a bracelet after he gave you that murder case,” he said in anger at the meeting Monday night.
Kisha McDowell, Donte’s aunt, said Donte had just gotten out of jail.
“The judge said he didn’t have to do time for that, so no charges were filed but his probation officer revoked him,” she said.
Donte told Tanya Wooden, Canady’s mother, that Knight shot Harry in the head, that after the shooting Knight took the car, and he ended up running back to the scene to get the gun.
“During the phone call Donte appeared as though he was doing me a favor by calling me and telling me these details,” Wooden said. “He was bragging about not being charged with anything.”
Wooden doesn’t wish on anyone what she’s had to go through losing Harry and when she heard that Donte was killed, she asked for people to pray for him on her Facebook page.
“I did try to get that probation revoked when they let him out,” she said. “But they refused.”