WAUKEGAN, Ill. — The mother of slain 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette has filed a lawsuit against two Waukegan police officers after he was shot and killed.
His parents are trying to process their grief and disbelief as Stinnette’s public visitation was held Friday.
“I want justice for Marcellis, the ultimate justice,” said father Selvin Holmes. “He did not deserve that.”
Mother Zharvellis Holmes filed a federal lawsuit Thursday, on behalf of Stinnette, against the City of Waukegan and two officers involved, identified in the lawsuit as Dante Salinas and James Keating.
Stinnette’s girlfriend, Tafara Williams, is also suing the city and those officers.
Waukegan police have said that Tafara Williams, 20, and Stinnette fled after an officer approached the car they were sitting in. Police said a second officer later stopped the couple’s car. They have said that as one of the officers approached, the vehicle started moving in reverse and the officer opened fire.
Williams’ lawsuit disputes the contention that the officer who fired the shots feared for his life because the car was coming toward him and says a witness also disputes that version of events. It accuses him of using excessive force when he fired at Williams and Stinnette as they sat in Williams’ car, unarmed.
The lawsuit also contends that the second officer had no reason to confront the couple in the first place, as they sat in Williams’ vehicle smoking and talking.
“They pulled him over for nothing, they really pulled him over for nothing,” said family attorney Kevin O’Connor.
In one of the videos of the incident released by the mayor on Wednesday, 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?”
Stinnette’s mother said she won’t stop demanding justice for her son.
“They’re not training these officers to do right,” said Zharvellis Holmes. “They’re letting them get way with murder, they make them like it’s okay, it’s not.”
Kevin O’Connor said he was involved in filing a separate federal lawsuit against one of the officers, Dante Salinas, last year. O’Connor alleges Salinas pulled the trigger in Stinnette’s shooting.