WAUKEGAN, ILLINOIS: A Black man was killed and his girlfriend and the mother of his child was seriously injured after police fired at their vehicle, sparking protests throughout Chicago. The deceased was identified as 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette, while his girlfriend, Tafara Williams, 20, is said to be recuperating in hospital. The shooting happened on October 20, and demonstrators took to the streets to protest soon after. Williams, who was shot in the stomach and hand and was driving, told ABC7 that they had done nothing wrong to provoke the shooting.
Officers claim the pair allegedly fled a traffic stop, then reversed towards one of the cops, prompting their firing. The police claimed that the car fled police pursuit, and was spotted later by another officer. When this officer approached the car, police claim that the victims reversed the vehicle towards the officer, who shot at them killing Stinnette. This officer, who was not identified, was fired, authorities said Friday.
“The City of Waukegan terminated the officer that discharged his firearm during that incident, for multiple policy and procedure violations,” Waukegan Police Chief Wayne Walles said in a news release, without detailing any violation or revealing the identity of the officer.
Williams, however, claims differently. “Why did you shoot? I didn’t do nothing wrong. I have a license. You didn’t tell me I was under arrest,” she asks, of the police, adding “Why did you just flame up my car like that? Why did you shoot?”
The police have said that no weapons were found in the vehicle – nor have the police confirmed why the couple was pulled over for a traffic stop in the first place.
Williams’ mother, Clifftina Johnson, recounts seeing her daughter in the hospital. “‘When I got there, she said, ‘Mama, they just shot us for nothing’,” she said. “My daughter said she put her hand up, and if she didn’t put her hand up, she said, ‘Mama, I would be dead’.” When asked about what happened to Stinnette, Johnson claimed she didn’t have the heart to tell her daughter that her boyfriend had been killed.
The family of the couple are now demanding that the police release any video that shows exactly what happened, in addition to any further information about the incident. According to the Daily Mail, the specific body camera footage that the families are asking for has been released to the Illinois State Police.
The Waukegan police Commander Edgar Navarro has said that the matter is currently being investigated, while Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim claims that the investigation may take up to several weeks to complete.
A protest held on October 22 began with a few dozen people gathering at the site of the shooting, before marching on to police headquarters. Local Black Lives Matter organizer Clyde McLemore is calling for the prosecution of the officers who are involved, and is asking for the Department of Justice to step in on this investigation instead of the state police themselves. “We are tired of the police investigating the police,’ he said.
The protests have been entirely peaceful, which is notable in the light of the fact that Waukegan is only 15 miles away from Kenosha, where more violent protests erupted after the shooting of Jacob Blake, who was paralyzed after being shot seven times by police in August. It’s also where Kyle Rittenhouse is accused of having shot and killed two protestors two nights after the protests began.