‘Why did you shoot us?’: Waukegan mayor releases videos of fatal police-involved shooting

Chicago News

DES PLAINES, Ill. — Waukegan’s mayor released videos of a fatal police-involved shooting that left a 19-year-old dead and his girlfriend injured.

On Wednesday, lawyers for the couple who was shot by Waukegan police that video shared by authorities showed a bullet-riddled car but not the entire incident.

Mayor Sam Cunningham released the videos and said the officer’s bodycam was not “properly activated to properly archive the time of the shooting.

“This was a breach of Waukegan Police Department policies, and one of the reasons for the officer’s termination,” the mayor said.

Marcellis Stinnette, 19, was killed and his girlfriend, Tafara Williams, 20, was wounded after Waukegan police shot them in their car on Oct. 20. Police said they approached their car because it was “suspicious.” Williams said she and Stinnette had gone out to have a cigarette in their car.

Attorney Benjamin Crump said it appears that Waukegan officers had their body cameras off during key moments.

“We don’t have the transparency. We don’t have the truth,” Antonio Romanucci told reporters outside of a state police post in Des Plaines. Crump said they only have bits and pieces of the incident.

In one of the videos released, an officer is heard telling Stinnette that he was under arrest. When he asks why, an officer says, “Because I said.” The officer is seen approaching the vehicle and later says, “Because he has a warrant.”

The officer then says, “You can come out,” and the vehicle is seen driving away. Williams was behind the wheel that night. The officer then says, “Hey they just ran me over.”

In dashcam video, the moments leading up to the shooting are seen — an officer gets out of his squad car and the vehicle he was chasing appears to go in reverse. The actual shooting is not seen on video, but about half dozen gunshots are heard going off. A crash is then heard as the car backs up into a building.

When the officer turns his camera on, Williams can be heard screaming and saying, “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

“I was right behind you and you tried to run me over,” the officer replies.

Moments later, the woman is heard saying, “Why did you shoot us?”

Williams said Stinnette was badly wounded and was still breathing after police shot him, but the only help he received from them was a blanket.

“They allowed him to die,” she said Tuesday from her hospital room. “They wanted us to bleed out on the ground.”

Family members and attorneys are outraged that the officer did not have his camera on turning key moments.

The Lake County state’s attorney will decide if the officer will be charged.

On Wednesday, many in the Waukegan community joined together and expressed frustration over the incident.

One man WGN spoke to, Gabriel Blackelk, said he traveled from Minneapolis to show support for the family. He said his brother was also killed by police.

“I’m out here to show solidarity to the family of Marcellis Stinnette and we are out here to show that what happen with Marcellis was murder and the officer should be held accountable,” he said.

Blackelk said his brother, Paul Castaway, was killed by police in Denver.

“My brother was having a schizophrenic episode when my mom called the cops to get him help,” he said.

He said police shot and killed him. He said the incident in Waukegan sounded all too familiar.

“So we know what the families going through,” he said. “We know the pain. We know the tears. We know exactly what they’re going through.”

Blackelk said he and the Black Lives Matter groups will continue to march until the Stinnette and Williams family get justice. Other marches are planned as the investigation continues.

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