Police offered teen McDonald's in exchange for confession to crime someone else committed: attorney

Charges against 15-year-old Martell Williams dropped, but damage lingers

Michelle Gallardo Image
Monday, February 21, 2022
Police pressured teen to confess to crime he didn't commit: attorney
The attorney for a teen wrongfully accused by the Waukegan, IL police department of shooting a dollar store employee is asking for an apology.

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (WLS) -- Labeled as a would-be murderer, 15-year-old Martell Williams said he spent two nights last week in lockup at Waukegan's police department.

He was wrongly accused of shooting a local Dollar Store employee in the face on Feb. 4. Surveillance photos of the suspect were released by the police department in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

"The officers said that multiple people came to him and said it was me," said Martell Williams, the teen wrongly accused of shooting the employee.

The high school freshman, who is also on the basketball team, was confirmed to be at a game in Lincolnshire at the time of the shooting. A time-stamped photograph provided by the family helped to clear him.

But the damage had already been done. Williams was pulled out of class in front of all his classmates.

"The dean came down and got me and walked me to her office. And once I reached her office, there were two police officers," Williams said. "As soon as I got in, they didn't tell me nothing, say nothing to me. They just said, 'You're under arrest.'"

Flanked by his mother and his attorney this morning, Williams said officers offered him McDonald's in exchange for a confession. He didn't know what he was being accused of.

"They didn't even tell him a shooting was involved," said Kevin O'Connor, Williams' attorney. "They just said, 'Hey, it wasn't your fault. Just tell us you were defending yourself. Just go ahead and tell us you were there and we will let you go home.'"

And while William's attorney said the teenager's record has been expunged, he has been calling for an immediate public apology that will clear the teenager's name before he goes back to school on Tuesday.

"This is a continuing and ongoing problem," O'Connor said. "The Department of Justice has been here, yet this is still going on, where there are false confessions brought in."

The City of Waukegan released a statement Monday.

"The city is reviewing the case, but cannot make further public comment at this time," the statement said. "The city has been in contact with the juvenile's family and their attorney.

And while the police department would not directly address what happened with Williams, a spokesperson for the department said the investigation into who actually shot the Dollar Store employee has continued.