Suburban Chicago Officer Accused of Shooting Couple in Vehicle Sacked
USLorenz Duchamps

A police officer from a suburban part of Chicago has been terminated after he fired multiple shots at a black couple, who according to police fled from a traffic stop, authorities said Friday.

The sacked officer, whose identity hasn’t been disclosed, fatally shot 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette and injured his girlfriend, 20-year-old Tafara Williams earlier this week. Police have described the fired officer as Hispanic who was with the department for five years.

Waukegan Police Chief Wayne Walles said in a brief statement obtained by the Associated Press the accused officer committed “multiple policy and procedure violations.”

Stinnette was a passenger at the time of the shooting incident while Williams was driving the car and according to a patrol officer, they fled from a traffic stop that was conducted late on Tuesday at about 11 p.m. near Liberty and Oak streets in Waukegan.

A second officer, who also fired the shots, located the same vehicle that night and approached Stinnette and Williams sitting inside the vehicle.

Williams then allegedly tried to flee the traffic stop for a second time by moving the car in reverse, moving towards the officer, who then opened fire “in fear for his safety,” hitting both occupants.

“While officer #2 was out of his vehicle, and approaching the suspect vehicle, it began to reverse. Officer #2 fired his semi-automatic pistol, in fear for his safety,” according to a police statement. Stinnette was hit in the passenger seat and Williams was shot in the arm and abdomen.

The announcement of the firing came shortly after Lake County’s chief prosecutor announced the FBI will join Illinois State Police in the investigation.

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People march during a protest rally for Marcellis Stinnette in Waukegan, Ill., on Oct. 22, 2020. (Nam Y. Huh/AP Photo)

Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim said he asked the U.S. Justice Department to review the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

“I am confident in the work being done by the Illinois State Police and welcome the assistance of the FBI,” Nerheim said in a statement obtained by AP. ”As I have said before, once the investigation is concluded, all the evidence will be reviewed and a final decision will be made with respect to any potential charges.”

After the police-involved shooting, about 100 activists gathered outside the police department shouting slogans of “no justice, no peace,” used in many Black Lives Matter protests across the United States following the death of George Floyd in late May.

Activists and relatives of the couple also have demanded the release of police video of the shooting, which authorities say has been turned over to investigators.

Williams has retained Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney who also represents the families of Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Fox News reported.

The victim’s mother, Clifftina Johnson, visited her daughter in the hospital and told reporters on Wednesday her daughter did nothing to provoke the officer, her daughter claims the officer just started to shoot at them.

NTD Photo
Tafara Williams’s mother Clifftina Johnson speaks during a protest rally for Marcellis Stinnette in Waukegan, Ill., on Oct. 22, 2020. (Nam Y. Huh/AP Photo)

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

Following an investigation, police haven’t found any weapons in the vehicle or any reason for the couple to flee from the traffic stop. Authorities said the investigation into the shooting is ongoing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.