Cops moved slowly to help dying man in Waukegan police shooting over fear he may be armed: police reports

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Friday, November 6, 2020
2 lawsuits filed in fatal Waukegan police shooting
Two lawsuits have been filed in the wake of a police shooting in Waukegan that left a young man dead and his girlfriend in the hospital.

WAUKEGAN, Ill. -- Suburban Chicago police did not immediately provide medical aid to a mortally wounded man an officer had just shot because they feared that he or his girlfriend could have a gun, according to police reports released this week.

The police reports of the Oct. 20 shooting were released to the Lake County News-Sun in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. Last week, the mother of Marcellis Stinnette filed a lawsuit accusing Waukegan Police officers of letting her son bleed to death in the eight minutes it took for an ambulance to arrive.

RELATED: Waukegan police release bodycam video in deadly shooting

Waukegan police have released limited body camera video from a police shooting last week that killed a 19-year-old man and left a 20-year-old woman hospitalized.

In that federal suit, and in another filed by the woman who was seriously injured, Tafara Williams, attorneys said the couple posed no threat to the officers when they were shot and that neither was armed.

Attorneys for both of their families are suing the officers involved as well as the city of Waukegan.

The attorneys have also disputed Officer Dante Salinas' claim heard on his body camera video that he opened fire after Williams tried to run him over with her car.

But while the police department reports acknowledge no weapon was found in the vehicle, they also detail officers' claims that they were worried the couple might be armed and were unable to determine immediately whether or not that was true.

The reports say the officers eventually pulled Williams from the vehicle and placed him on the street. He had been shot in the abdomen.

According to the reports, Salinas was "visibly shaken" following the shooting. He was fired soon after, in large part because he failed to activate his body camera until after the shooting, which was a violation of department policy.

Moments before the shooting, James Keating, a white officer, approached the couple as they sat in a car in front of Williams' home. As the officer attempted to arrest Stinnette on an alleged warrant, Williams, who was in the driver's seat, sped off.

On video released by the city, Keating can be heard claiming on his radio, "Hey, they just ran me over." Attorneys for Williams have said that she never tried to run Keating over.

"As we continue to discover the intentional and unethical efforts this officer and others went through to obstruct justice and deliberately refuse medical aid to Marcellis Stinnette is absolutely astounding. There was no report of either the driver nor Mr. Stinnette having a weapon at all. Let's remember he was disabled due to a horrific accident just months before he was murdered," said Bishop Tavis Grant, National Filed Director of the Rainbow Push Coalition.

RELATED: Lawsuits filed in fatal Waukegan police shooting by families of Marcellis Stinnette, Tafara Williams

The civil suit also claims Salinas "failed to turn on his body camera before drawing his weapon."

Video released by the city of Waukegan shows the officer who fired the shots activated his body camera after the shots were fired.

"This was a breach of Waukegan Police Department policy and one of the reasons for the officer's termination," Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham said.

"This is just one more reason why not one should have been fired, but we believe others should be fired as well or severely reprimanded to the highest degree," Grant added. "Let's not forget the fact that Mr.Stinnette was not the driver nor did he pose any threat to anyone including the officer that shot and killed him. We know from video we viewed with the family that there was an officer who approached the vehicle moments after the shooting who was commanded by another officer to step away from the vehicle. We're not even sure if we have that officers body cam video. We strongly urge the Lake County States Attorney Mike Nerhem to thoroughly investigate this matter and prosecute those responsible for the death of Marcellis Stinnette to the fullest extent of the law. We demand equal protection under the law."

Stinnette's family attorney said there is another lawsuit pending against the same officer for a confrontation with a Taser in August 2019.

"We're all after the same thing," Rick Hammond, the attorney for the City of Waukegan, said Wednesday. "We want to get the right answers and the right results."

ABC7 reached out to the attorney for the city of Waukegan for comment on both lawsuits, but have not yet received a comment.

ABC7 Chicago contributed to this report.

The video featured is from a previous report.