Waukegan police shooting video released of incident that killed teen, injured woman; families view with attorneys

ByRavi Baichwal, Liz Nagy, and ABC 7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, October 29, 2020
Waukegan police shoots couple, man killed, woman hospitalized
Waukegan police shoots couple, man killed, woman hospitalizedWaukegan 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.

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (WLS) -- 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.

Marcellis Stinnette was killed and his girlfriend, Tafara Williams was hurt.

Williams' and Stinnette's families both viewed the video, along with their attorneys Antonio Romanucci and Benjamin Crump.

"Regrettably, I have to inform you were are going to fail to have full transparency for what happened that night," Romanucci said afterward.

Police said they were investigating a suspicious vehicle last Tuesday. In the video, the first officer approaches Williams' car with her boyfriend in the passenger seat.

"You're Marcellis, right? Yeah, you're under arrest," the officer says.

"Why?" Williams asks.

"Because I said," the officer answers. "I ain't playing with you cause I know you. Marcellis, you're under arrest."

"For what?" they ask.

"Because he's got a warrant," the officer answers.

ABC7 Eyewitness News could not find any open warrants out for Marcellis Stinnette's arrest. His family's attorney said he couldn't' either.

Moments later, Williams and Stinnette drive off. The video captures the officer yelling that they tried to run him over.

As the first officer calls out over the radio, a second officer spots Williams' car. Both the second officer's dashboard camera and surveillance cameras show her car speed around a corner, hopping a curb, and then immediately reversing. That's when multiple gunshots can be heard.

Another camera angle shows her car backing across the street and crashing into a building.

"There is no doubt that the use of force here was excessive," Romanucci said. "There were constitutional violations across the board here."

Waukegan officials said the officer who fired the deadly shots didn't properly activate his body camera to capture the shooting.

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

The victims and their advocates say the video shows all bullets struck the driver's side door of the vehicle the pair were sitting in, and there's no indication the car was moving toward the police officer, as the officer claims.

"He took aim, he was in a stationary position, and the car was stationary, and he took aim and he shot inside the car," said Romanucci.

The attorneys also said the video shows aid wasn't rendered to either victim, even as they screamed for help.

"There was no need to use excessive deadly force," said Benjamin Crump. "It was a traffic stop, you have the tags, you know who they are. Why do you have to shoot them?"

Emotions boiled over. Stinette's grandmother was overcome with grief.

"We see over and over again, in other communities, in other neighborhoods, you show great restraint, you show de-escalation," Crump said. "What is it about young Black people that makes police officers want to pull the trigger?"

"My brother didn't die for no reason," said Zhanellis Banks, Stinette's sister. "He died for change. He was killed. He was innocent. And we want justice."

The city of Waukegan said it has hours of additional video from the night of the incident that did not capture the shooting. The city said it plans to release all of the video as soon as possible.

Tafara Williams, woman shot by Waukegan police speaks out

Tafara Williams, who was shot by Waukegan police in a shooting that killed her boyfriend, described what happened leading up to the shooting.

Williams spoke from her hospital bed on Tuesday and described what happened leading up to the shooting.

Williams said she was in a parked car to smoke outside while Stinnette was in the passenger seat when the officer pulled up from behind without his lights or sirens on.

Williams said she turned on the lights inside her car and rolled down the windows. She said the officer then called Stinnette by name and began harassing him.

Williams' family members call for justice

Family members of Tafara Williams, a woman shot by Waukegan police, call for justice.

'He stood near the car with his left hand on his gun and he said to Marcellus, 'I know you from jail,'" Williams said.

The officer then stepped away and Williams said she drove away slowly because she was scared.

"I drove out to MLK and turned onto it. The officer was not following me. The police lights were not on. When I turned onto MLK, it seemed like there was another officer there waiting for us. There was a crash and I lost control. The officer was shooting at us. The car ended up slamming into a building. I kept screaming 'I didn't have a gun,' but he kept shooting."

WATCH: Statement from Waukegan police commander

Edgar Navarro, commander with Waukegan police department, gives a statement following the fatal shooting Tuesday night.

The FBI and Illinois State Police are investigating. Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim said he asked the U.S. Justice Department to review the circumstances surrounding the shooting.