Marquette Law School’s Andrew Center for Restorative Justice hosted a viewing of the Emmy award winning documentary When Claude Got Shot on February 1, 2023. The next day, February 2, the Center hosted a “talk back event” with Andrew Center Director Janine Geske moderating a discussion with co-producer and impact campaign advisor Santana Wilson Cole, and Claude Motley.
Claude discussed his experiences of being shot by Nathan King and his journey after the shooting which led to his restorative justice advocacy. Santana shared her experience filming the documentary, her relationship with Claude, and empathy towards Claude’s shooter, Nathan. Claude’s friend, Brad Lichtenstein directed and produced When Claude Got Shot. Santana joined the documentary team as an intern. The film highlights Claude’s journey and Nathan’s criminal justice proceedings.
Claude’s journey began when Claude returned to his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for a high school reunion only to become a victim of gun violence. When two cars pulled up, Nathan, a 15-year-old, attempted to carjack Claude. Nathan got out of his car and while attempting to carjack Claude, shot Claude in the jaw. Claude fled in his vehicle, not realizing he was shot. The next day another victim shot Nathan while he was attempting yet another carjacking. As a result of those injuries, Nathan ended up being paralyzed from the waist down. Nathan and Claude ended up being treated at the same hospital, at the same time.
Claude and Santana described how the film follows Nathan’s juvenile court proceedings, which resulted in Nathan’s eventual transfer to be tried as an adult. Claude discussed how he was torn between his empathy and his anger. Nathan was given numerous chances to avoid being tried as an adult but absconded twice which resulted in his transfer to adult court.
Claude gave an impact statement asking the court to give Nathan a lighter sentence; however, despite that, the Judge gave him 12 years. Claude recalled conflicting emotions at Nathan’s sentencing. Most impactful for Claude was when Nathan was taken into the custody of the State and Nathan’s mother was prohibited from giving Nathan a hug because he now belonged to the State.
Claude eventually realized he wanted to sit down and talk to Nathan to express his forgiveness so; he reached out to Professor Geske. Claude was inspired by going through the restorative justice process with Nathan and, since the documentary, Claude opened his own non-profit for restorative justice reform in Charlotte, North Carolina. He wants to be a father figure for those struggling and wants to help others find peace. Despite push back from the community, Claude maintains his resilience in trying to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves.
Despite Santana’s anger toward Nathan for hurting Claude, she empathized with Nathan during the victim offender meeting. Santana reasoned that Nathan was only a kid, a kid who truly struggled, who likely felt alone, who did not have positive role models in his life, and who was lost. She has been inspired to advocate and assist juveniles as much as she can. Santana advocates and helps educate communities on the impacts of gun violence.
Professor Geske ended the talk-back session with discussing Santana’s new projects all involving racial impact themes. Santana is currently managing and advising for multiple impact campaigns, filming, and directing her own short film, and writing a comedy series.
In 2021, Marquette University Law School established the Andrew Center for Restorative Justice, recognizing the generosity of Louis J. Andrew, Jr., and Suzanne Bouquet Andrew. The Andrew Center is intended to continue into the future the work of the Hon. Janine P. Geske, former justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, who led the Law School in establishing its former Restorative Justice Initiative in 2004. Restorative justice seeks particularly to help support victims and communities in the process of healing from the effects of crime.