Family Lays Shantel Davis to Rest Amid Controversy
By Maya Shwayder on June 23, 2012 5:24pm
EAST NEW YORK — Friends, family, and supportive community members packed an East New York church on Saturday to say their last words of goodbye to Shantel Davis, the 23-year-old woman who was shot to death by a cop following a car chase.
The small Tabernacle of Praise church was filled to the point of standing-room only by late afternoon, as friends and family stood up in front of the congregation to remember and share their memories of Davis.
Throughout the service, and after it, people remembered Shantel, whose name filled news headlines following her June 14 shooting, as a good-hearted person.
"She was a decent person. Forget the rumors. Nobody's perfect," said Derrick, one of Shantel's cousins, when he stood up to pay tribute to her. He did not want his last name used.
"Everyone's got a rap sheet," he continued. "But we're not hurting no one but our parents. Let it [Shantel] be the last person this happens to."
The detective who shot Davis's, Phil Atkins, 44, has been involved in several lawsuits relating to misconduct, and his record was discussed among funeralgoers.
City Council member Jumaane Williams, who sported a "Stop Stop-and-Frisk" button, said the funeral did not mean the end of the family's struggle.
"I've been with the family since the beginning," Williams said. "They want justice. They're angry. These incidents happen more often in communities of color."
Lincoln Davis, 52, Shantel's uncle, said that he "absolutely" felt his neice was criminalized. "It doesn't make sense," he said. "She was no angel, but it's not fair. Kids these days don't have jobs, there's nothing there for them. So they get into trouble."
Speaking over the phone through another family member, Shantel's father, who was not at the service, said "I want justice for my baby. The march will go on until this cop is brought to justice."
Jamel, 37, who wouldn't give her last name, also thought that Shantel was unjustly criminalized. "They misjudged her," she said, "In spite of her history, how could they have known who she was when they chase her down?"
Many friends and family made the point that Shantel was nice girl with a messy past who was trying to clean herself up. Garry Thomas, 47, a neighbor who said he had watched Davis grow up, said that she was starting to get herself together.
"She had just come to me and told me she was getting ready to do her GED," Thomas said. "She came to me asking if I knew any 9-5 [jobs] that would take her."
"This is a rough neighborhood," Thomas continued, echoing Lincoln Davis's words about how kids around East New York get into trouble. "But she never walked passed my house without saying hello and giving me a hug."