The officer who shot and killed Da’Shontay King in May after King fled a traffic stop will not face charges in his death.
Racine police officer Zachary Brenner on May 20 pulled King over because King had a warrant for his arrest on a charge of a felon with a firearm, which is a felony. King fled the traffic stop and after a foot chase, Brenner shot King. At the time, Racine Police Chief Maurice Robinson said King “took an action” that warranted Brenner shooting him, but didn’t elaborate.
In the body cam footage aired by WISN 12 News, during the foot chase, Brenner catches up with King briefly and grabs his hoodie before King slips away as he climbs an embankment. King is running across a grassy area when Brenner yells for him to get down and not to reach for a weapon or he would be shot. Not even a second later, Brenner fired several rounds. King was hit multiple times and can be heard groaning while Brenner calls, “Shots fired, shots fired,” over his radio.
Racine County District Attorney Tricia Hanson’s 27-page opinion was briefly published online Tuesday and spotted by WISN News before it was pulled down before its full release shortly before 5 p.m.
In her opinion, Hanson wrote, “My review of the facts and circumstances of this case lead (sic) me to the conclusion that Officer Brenner is immune from criminal liability in this case as the death of Mr. King was a direct result of Mr. King’s conduct that posed a reasonable and imminent threat to Officer Brenner, under the circumstances as they existed at the time. Mr. King was armed with a firearm, therefore, his intentional use of a firearm was reasonable and necessary under the circumstances.”
During WISN’s live report Tuesday from the Racine County courthouse, reporter Caroline Reinwald said King’s family was meeting with Hanson and were reportedly upset she released the body cam footage prior to their meeting, and that the family was not able to agree to its release.
When Robinson took to the podium, which was also aired live on wisn.com, he reviewed the facts of the case and played more of the body cam footage, including the shooting of King and Brenner asking, “Are you okay?” as King lies on the ground.
Robinson included photos of the search warrant for the search of the vehicle King was driving and said that King made the decision that day to leave his home with a firearm on his person. Robinson reviewed King’s criminal record and narrated photos taken from the body cam footage. He repeatedly highlighted when King could have either stopped running and allowed Brenner to arrest him when King first turned to face Brenner before climbing the small hill, dropped his weapon and kept running when he reached the grassy area, or dropped his weapon and submitted to apprehension.
“Mr. King made a conscious decision to re-arm himself, and that’s what led to Officer Brenner firing his weapon,” Robinson said during his presentation.
The chief did confirm that other officers arrived on the scene and administered CPR and other life-saving measures.
A member of the small group gathered in the room asked how Brenner was faring.
“No one comes to work expecting to take a life, and he’s understandably shaken,” the chief answered.
In response to other questions from a reporter, Robinson said he hopes the footage of King’s death spurs the public to put down weapons and report others who continue to engage in violent behavior.
Stay up to date with emergency, crime and police encounters. The Racine County Eye and Kenosha Lens is your source for local news that serves our diverse communities. Subscribe today and never miss a beat. Visit our Police & Fire section to read more.