/Illinois police officer who fatally shot Black teen Marcellis Stinnette has been fired

Illinois police officer who fatally shot Black teen Marcellis Stinnette has been fired

Grace Hauck


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Bishop Tavis Grant of Rainbow P.U.S.H. Coalition speaks during a rally held in Waukegan following a police shooting that left a Black man dead.

CHICAGO – An Illinois officer who had been placed on leave after shooting two people in a car Tuesday night, fatally injuring one, has been fired by the Waukegan Police Department.

The officer, who was not identified, was a five-year member of the department and is Hispanic. He was terminated Friday night “for multiple policy and procedure violations,” Department Commander Edgar Navarro said in a press release.

Marcellis Stinnette, 19, was killed, and his girlfriend, Tafara Williams, 20, was injured after the officer shot into a car that allegedly reversed toward him.

On Friday, attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio M. Romanucci – who represent the families of George Floyd, Daniel Prude, Byron Williams and others – said that they had been retained to represent Williams. Williams has serious injuries but is expected to recover.

“Ms. Williams’ legal team will begin our own investigation into what happened during that incident, because we do not trust the police narrative in this case. We have seen over and over that the ‘official’ report when police kill Black people is far too often missing or misrepresenting details,” Crump said in a press release. “We will share our findings with the public when we have uncovered the truth.”

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The incident happened just before midnight Tuesday, when an officer approached a “suspicious” vehicle, Navarro told reporters Wednesday. As the officer was conducting his investigation, the vehicle fled and was spotted moments later by another officer, who got out of his car to approach the vehicle, Navarro said.

“That officer exited his vehicle, and the vehicle that he was investigating began to reverse towards the officer. The officer then pulled out his duty weapon and fired into the vehicle,” Navarro said.

The initial police report said the officer was “in fear for his safety.”

He struck both Stinnette, who was in the passenger seat, and Williams, who was in the driver’s seat. They both were taken to the hospital, where Stinnette died.

No firearms were found in the vehicle, Navarro said. He did not elaborate on why the vehicle was initially stopped.

Navarro said Wednesday that both officers involved had been placed on leave. Neither have been identified.

The families of Stinnette and Williams, who are Black, have questioned the department’s official narrative. Cliftina Johnson, Williams’ mom, said she visited her daughter in the hospital, where she is in serious condition. Her daughter is a mother of two.

Illinois State Police’s Public Integrity Task Force was investigating the incident, and the Waukegan Police Department had turned over all reports, body cam and dashcam videos, Navarro said.

Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim said Wednesday he would review the state police investigation and make the “entire case file” available to the public once complete.

Dozens of men, women and children marched through Waukegan on Thursday afternoon to demand justice for Williams and Stinnette, walking with fists raised and chanting “Black lives matter.”

“Say his name! Marcellis Stinnette! What’s her name? Tafara Williams,” the group chanted, according to livestreams of the march posted to social media.

With a population of more than 86,000, Waukegan is majority Hispanic or Latino and about a quarter non-Hispanic white and a quarter Black, according to the Census Bureau.

The city is about 15 miles south of Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Jacob Blake, 29, was shot in the back multiple times as he was getting into a car, triggering unrest in the city and sparking protests around the nation. 

Of the more than 5,700 people police have shot since 2015, 24% were Black, even though Black Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population, according to a Washington Post database of fatal shootings by on-duty police officers.

Contributing: The Associated Press