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District Attorney: “Evidence presented is insufficient to support the filing of charges” in alleged racial incident

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One day after Wichita State police handed over the findings of their investigation of Student Body President Paige Hungate’s parents to the Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett, his office determined not to file charges in the case.

According to a Wednesday statement to WSU Police Chief Sara Morris, Bennett’s office found the “evidence presented is insufficient to support the filing of charges.”

Earlier this month, former Wichita State Student Body President Joseph Shepard announced he was pressing charges against Hungate’s parents, Trent Hungate and Stacey Steffes-Sundquist, for an incident that occurred following a farewell speech Shepard delivered at the end-of-the-year Student Government banquet.

Hungate’s parents, who each work at local high schools, were under criminal investigation for battery and anti-black, hate “fighting words.”

Shepard said Hungate’s mother, Stacey Steffes-Sundquist, approached him after his speech because she had taken exception to his speech. He said they then moved the conversation outside of Beggs Ballroom, where the conversation escalated to an argument.

Shepard said Steffes-Sundquist described his speech as “divisive” and an attack on her daughter.

Shepard said Steffes-Sundquist raised her voice while continuing to express animosity toward him, and with tensions building, former Student Body Vice President Taben Azad stepped in, telling Shepard to leave the altercation. Agreeing to leave, Shepard responded to Steffes-Sundquist saying, “Act your age, not your shoe size and then maybe, moving forward, we can have a conversation.”

Shepard said as Steffes-Sundquist left, she mumbled a racial slur directed at him.

Multiple sources that witnessed the altercation confirmed Steffes-Sundquist then directed a racial epithet toward Shepard. After the argument, Hungate’s father, Trent Hungate, “charged” Shepard, bumping Shepard’s mother, who is listed in the police report as a victim, in the shoulder, multiple witnesses said.

“He had intent to physically harm me,” Shepard told The Sunflower the day after the altercation.

Bennett said the alleged crimes each lacked sufficient evidence to “establish beyond a reasonable doubt” that a crime occurred.

“Regarding the allegation of verbal disorderly conduct, the accounts of witnesses who would have been within earshot were not consistent,” Bennett said in his statement.

“Regarding the allegation of assault, witnesses described a situation in which third parties stood between and, attempted to remove both the alleged victim and the alleged suspect who engaged in a verbal altercation.”

“Regarding the allegation of battery, insufficient evidence exists to establish beyond a reasonable doubt the allegation that the alleged suspect intentionally caused physical contact with the bystander or that the alleged suspect recognized the risk of physical contact and then recklessly disregarded the same.”

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Read the full statement here: District Attorney Marc Bennett’s statement on the May 4 SGA Banquet incident

 

11 Comments

11 Responses to “District Attorney: “Evidence presented is insufficient to support the filing of charges” in alleged racial incident”

  1. Salty student on May 24th, 2017 6:53 pm

    “Regarding the allocation of intimidation, guilty.”

    “Regarding the severe lack of professionalism, You better pray to the Lord almighty that you keep your job.”

    [Reply]

  2. Magic Number on May 24th, 2017 8:54 pm

    Never a doubt about this decision.

    This isn’t a “he-said-she-said” rape allegation. I am curious what the number of people are and what “earshot proximity” distance measures were used to determine what was credible. The story says multiple sources said they witnessed the epithet. How many is multiple? How many reported she said it? How many were discredited and why? Did WSUPD declare the witnesses were not credible or the DA? If WSUPD did they feel pressured in any way? If the DA, what basis? If multiple people reported hearing it don’t you determine credibility at a trial?

    Hopefully a lawyer or organization would see merit in an EEOC complaint to help determine what is really going on.

    [Reply]

    Concerned Student Reply:

    One witness was Quang Nguyen from this article http://www.kansas.com/news/local/education/article148858679.html

    Why not ask him for his statement?

    [Reply]

  3. Intent on May 24th, 2017 9:00 pm

    So was the epithet said with not enough intent or not said at all?

    [Reply]

    Kevin Reply:

    It wasn’t said, it was made up. Shepard and his friends now that the allegation alone is enough to hurt and damage another persons reputation.

    [Reply]

  4. Jack H. on May 24th, 2017 9:20 pm

    I am wondering why Shepard’s speech has yet to be published. Personally, I would like to know what was the trigger to this event. Is Shepard withholding it? Is the Sunflower not publishing it? This is the story that is missing from The Sunflower.

    [Reply]

    Concerned Student Reply:

    Its posted on facebook. View it here: https://www.facebook.com/sheila.davenportshepard/posts/10212812885218173?pnref=story Feel free to see if this was triggering or not.

    [Reply]

    Lucas Reply:

    There have been videos of a large part of Joseph’s speech on Facebook that circulated a while ago.

    [Reply]

    GG Reply:

    Joseph’s speech video and words were posted on Facebook a while ago

    [Reply]

  5. Tanner Lampe on May 25th, 2017 1:50 am

    Whenever I’ve heard it, “Act your age, not your shoe size” always seemed to escalate a conversation rather than bring it to an amicable close. But we can only speculate what else was said and in what context, so who knows the intent of said comment.

    [Reply]

  6. Me. Jones on May 25th, 2017 7:59 am

    Baseless claims=no case, as that is how our legal system should be.

    [Reply]

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