Early evening on Friday, Dec. 23, Pensacola Police Officer Shawn Thompson shot Robert Donson outside the liquor store/club Tom Ann Buddy’s on Cervantes Street – near Pace Blvd. The IN has talked to witnesses, friends and family of Donson and has gotten a different picture of the events surrounding the shooting than what the daily newspaper has reported.
Thompson is a PPD officer who has a history of arrest problems. What was he doing raiding a crowded club with two other officers? No one at PPD or the City has told the public that the officers were part of some official drug bust. All three are reported to have been dressed in jackets and wearing ski masks. It’s uncertain whether the officers identified themselves as law enforcement when they jumped out of their vehicle.
We’ve been told that there was gambling (dice) at Buddy’s the previous night, but would that have prompted such stronghold tactics by PPD? If Thompson and others were on an official raid, why so few officers and why raid Buddy’s at 5:45 pm on a Friday?
Donson has an arrest record that began when he was 18, mostly cocaine and pot possession. He has spent time in state prison and county jail. He did hang with a group from the Fronteria Circle area. Thompson didn’t pull Donson out the club, but actually grabbed him outside. Donson did resist and fight the officers. We’ve been told that Donson was thrown to the ground and on top of the hood of a nearby car. At one point, two officers had both of his arms and were holding them in the air.
No one saw Donson with a gun. Family members and friends said that Donson didn’t own or carry a gun. Yet Thompson shot Donson in the stomach at close range. Later what witnesses have described as a very small handgun was found at the scene.
Donson was taken to Baptist Hospital and has been kept away from his family. Thompson is on administrative leave while FDLE investigates the shooting.
After shooting, the PDD struggled to maintain order at the crime scene. I received several calls that there was a near riot as the crowd -some of which had been drinking and smoking dope – became more agitated about the shooting. There was confusion as to who had been shot.
Buddy’s has a history of shootings. As one witness told me, everybody in the hood has a relative that was shot or killed at that place. Located behind Walgreen’s and within walking distance of Attacks Court and Morris Court, Buddy’s is where many in the surrounding neighborhoods got their first drink.
Area church leaders have long wanted the club shutdown but have gotten little support from elected officials–another failure on the parts of County Commissioner Marie Young, Council members John Jerralds and Ronald Townsend–and their predecessors Hugh King and Jewel Cannada-Wynn. None of them were there Friday night to help calm the crowd.
The irony is that if the Pensacola City Council of the past decade had truly implemented the West Side Development Plan that the City approved in 2007, then Buddy’s wouldn’t be in existence.
The Wiggins/Coby administration had the Victor Steen death. Now Mayor Ashton Mayor has this shooting. It will be interesting to see how his administration deals with it and with such crime hot spots as Buddy’s. Hayward has yet to speak publicly on the shooting.