Fatal OIS in Chicago suburb sparks protests, state investigation

The incident unfolded as officers were responding to a suspicious vehicle call, police said


By Joseph Wilkinson
New York Daily News

CHICAGO — Protesters gathered in Waukegan, Ill., on Thursday to demand justice for Marcellis Stinnette, a 19-year-old Black man who was killed by a police officer late Tuesday night.

Stinnette and his girlfriend, 20-year-old Tafara Williams, were sitting in a car outside Williams' mother’s house in the north Chicago suburb, Williams' mother Clifftina Johnson told local ABC affiliate WLS. Police said they got a report of a suspicious vehicle in the area.

People march during a protest rally for Marcellis Stinnette who was killed by Waukegan Police last Tuesday in Waukegan, Ill., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020.
People march during a protest rally for Marcellis Stinnette who was killed by Waukegan Police last Tuesday in Waukegan, Ill., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Cops said that once a squad car rolled up, Williams, in the driver’s seat, drove away and parked about a half-mile south, according to WLS. Police said that a second officer spotted the couple moments later and got out of his car to investigate.

According to police, Williams then reversed her car toward the officer, who shot into the vehicle in response, USA Today reported. The unnamed officer killed Stinnette, sitting in the passenger’s seat, and shot Williams in the chest and hand, seriously injuring her. Williams was taken to a hospital.

"When I got there, she said, “Mama, they just shot us for nothing,” Johnson told WLS. “My daughter said she put her hand up, and if she didn’t put her hand up, she said, ‘Mama, I would be dead.’”

Dozens of activists gathered in Waukegan on Thursday, demanding justice for Stinnette and the release of police body-camera and dashboard-camera video, according to the Associated Press. That video is not yet public, but has been turned over to Illinois State Police, who are investigating the shooting.

That investigation will land in the hands of Lake County State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim, who will decide whether to press charges, WLS reported.

Waukegan mayor Sam Cunningham asked Wednesday for protests to remain peaceful as he revealed his connection to Stinnette’s family.

“I know this family personally. Their great-grandmother used to babysit me. To speak to them about this, yeah it hurts,” Cunningham said, according to USA Today. “I’m a Black man who grew up in that same neighborhood. It could have been me.”

Nerheim, the county attorney, decided in 2015 not to charge a white cop who killed a 17-year-old Black kid in the town of Zion, Ill., about 8 miles north of Waukegan. He said the teen in that case was holding a gun and therefore the fatal shooting was justified.

Police said the officer who killed Stinnette is Hispanic. No weapons were found in Stinnette and Williams' car.

(c)2020 New York Daily News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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