Politics & Government

No charges in alleged racial slur, altercation on WSU campus

Wichita State University students protest outside student government offices at the Rhatigan Student Center on May 10 following an altercation on campus.
Wichita State University students protest outside student government offices at the Rhatigan Student Center on May 10 following an altercation on campus. File photo

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett will not pursue charges following an incident that inflamed tensions on the Wichita State University campus.

University police were investigating a May 4 altercation after a student government banquet at the Rhatigan Student Center.

Former student president Joseph Shepard and his mother, Sheila Davenport-Shepard, were listed as victims in a campus police report.

Shepard and his family alleged that one of the parents of the current student president called Shepard a racial slur. They say her father charged at Shepard, prompting other people to intervene and separate the two. Davenport-Shepard was allegedly pushed in the process.

Bennett wrote that his office couldn’t establish “beyond a reasonable doubt that the alleged statement was made and made with … criminal intent.”

“The accounts of witnesses who would have been within earshot were not consistent,” Bennett wrote in a Wednesday letter to WSU Police Chief Sara Morris.

Bennett also said there was not enough evidence for charges of assault, since other people stood between and tried to remove the people in the argument. And he said there wasn’t enough evidence for charges of battery.

Shepard could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon but previously told The Eagle he stood by his allegations.

The incident sparked a firestorm on social media, prompting some students to call for student president Paige Hungate to step down because of what they viewed as a lackluster response to the incident.

About a week after the event, Hungate and other student leaders agreed to take diversity training and meet other demands made by protesting students.

Contributing: Suzanne Perez Tobias of The Eagle

Daniel Salazar: 316-269-6791, @imdanielsalazar

  Comments