Shannon Street discussion set to air on WREG Thursday night

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — This week marks a dark day in Memphis history.

Thirty-five years ago the Shannon Street tragedy occurred, where two Memphis police officers were held hostage. One of them was tortured and killed by a group of people called religious zealots.

Thursday night a special program will air on WREG that tackles what 's been learned from Shannon Street 35 years later.

"Shannon Street: Echoes under a Blood Red Moon" is a documentary that looks at a dark day in Memphis history.

"It still echoes today," says Marie Pizano, the documentary's creator.

She spent 2 years going back over the history, interviewing witnesses and recreating the capture of Officers Ray Schwill and Bobby Hester by Lindberg Sanders in his Shannon Street home in 1983.

Officer Schwill made it out alive but Bobby Hester was killed

Police say Lindberg Sanders, who also ended up being killed by officers, had a history of mental issues.

To this day, there are questions about how the incident was handled.

"Of all the people that were involved in Shannon Street their common thread was they never want to see it happen again. I don't want to see it happen again," Pizano said.

After the documentary Pizano knew the wounds opened up had to be dealt with.

Last January, she set up a panel discussion between police, mental health advocates and community leaders to talk about where to go from here.

"Out of tragedy, you know, important lessons come out of that and we have to evolve and try to make sure that never happens again," Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings said during the discussion last year.

"We all know what needs to be done. So let's move forward and do it," says Pizano.

That panel discussion will air on WREG for the first time this Thursday.

Former Police Officer Stanley Shotwell was on the crisis team that responded to Shannon Street 35 year ago. He says officers were at a lost on what they were dealing with in Lindberg Sanders.

He says there was a mental illness aspect as well as the racial one.

"I don't think we knew how deep and detailed this thing went with Lindberg Sanders," Shotwell said. "There was a lot of animosity in Lindberg, animosity toward police. But on the other side, he was dealing with something, maybe paranoia."

After Shannon Street police eventually created a Crisis Intervention Team, where officers are trained to handle calls that involve the mentally ill.
Shotwell says police who witnessed the massacre were also in need of emotional counseling.

"They didn't get any debriefing to deal with what they dealt with. I didn't get it," says Shotwell.

It's why the panel discussion is so important, to address how police and the community interact so Shannon Street never happens again.

Pizano is now planning a movie on Shannon Street with a soundtrack of local Memphis artists.

"I want a sound track of all original music that can bring forth this discussion for change or the feeling of how can we change," says Pizano.

The Shannon Street panel discussion will air on WREG overnight Thursday, Jan. 11 at 1:07 a.m.