RACINE — The family of Donte D. Shannon filed a lawsuit against the City of Racine and two officers involved in a Jan. 17 shooting that resulted in Shannon’s death.
The lawsuit, filed Feb. 5 in federal court, alleges Shannon’s civil rights were violated in the event.
Authorities have stated that Racine police officers Chad Stillman and Peter Boeck were involved in a traffic stop with Shannon near 14th and Villa streets when Shannon allegedly fled on foot. Authorities have also stated the officers saw Shannon brandish a firearm and that the officers responded with gunfire. Shannon died on the way to the hospital. The lawsuit argues Shannon’s actions in the encounter did not justify the officers’ use of deadly force.
Shannon left his house to get a haircut when police pulled his vehicle over, the lawsuit states. He pulled into a driveway, left his vehicle and ran. Stillman and Boeck “knew that he was not violent, knew that he was a runner, and he was running away from the officer, not toward him,” the lawsuit states.
“At no point during (the) encounter with Defendant Officer Chad Stillman and Defendant Officer Peter Boeck did Shannon pose an imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm sufficient to justify the use of deadly force by the Defendants,” according to the court filings.
The case argues Shannon’s constitutional rights were violated. It further argues that the city failed to adequately train, supervise, control and discipline its officers, which “condones” the alleged misconduct at hand.
The suit requests a jury trial and seeks compensatory damages.
Family wants answers
Shannon’s estate is represented by George G. Argionis and Al Koritsaris of Argionis & Associates in Chicago. Koritsaris said lawsuits of this nature allow parties to preserve evidence involved in a case so that the family can do its own investigation.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice, which is investigating the shooting, has released few details about the incident, other than to say the agency aims to complete these investigations in about a month.
“Anytime a situation like this arises, where not all the facts are available to everyone, especially at this juncture, there’s a lot of unanswered questions,” Koritsaris said. “The family just wants answers. They want to know exactly what occurred.”
He said he could not yet quantify how much money would be requested in damages, other than to say it would be “substantial.”
City Attorney Scott Letteney on Tuesday declined to comment on the complaint.
“The City of Racine has not been served with a complaint in any lawsuit initiated by the Shannon family,” he said in an email. “The City of Racine cannot comment on any pending action.”
The Wisconsin Professional Police Association, which has stated it is representing the officers, described the lawsuit as premature.
“Given that the independent investigation into this matter has not yet concluded, this lawsuit seems woefully premature and based more upon groundless and inflammatory accusations than actual evidence,” WPPA Executive Director Jim Palmer said by email. “The officers have voluntarily cooperated with the ongoing external review and believe that the facts will speak for themselves.”
A DOJ spokesman stated that the investigation remains ongoing and that no “investigative information or conclusions” have been shared with anyone.
“The family just wants answers. They want to know exactly what occurred.” Al Koritsaris, attorney for the Shannon family