The Officer Who Killed 19-Year-Old Marcellis Stinnette And Injured Tafara Williams Has Been Fired
"When I got there, she said, 'Mama, they just shot us for nothing,'" Williams' mother said.
October 23, 2020 at 4:53 pm
Update (October 25, 2020): A police officer in Waukegan, Illinois, has been fired after killing 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette and injuring the young man’s 20-year-old girlfriend, Tafara Williams, during a Tuesday traffic stop, Reuters reported.
The unidentified male officer, who is Hispanic, shot into the car, striking Stinnette, who was on the passenger side, and Williams, who was driving. Williams survived after being wounded in the abdomen and wrist while Stinnette died upon arrival to the hospital.
"When I got there, she said, 'Mama, they just shot us for nothing.' My daughter said she put her hand up, and if she didn’t put her hand up, she said, 'Mama, I would be dead,'" said the young woman’s mother, Cliftina Johnson.
The Waukegan Police Department fired the officer on Friday, saying the shooter was guilty of multiple policy and procedure violations during the incident. Authorities also confirmed that there was no firearm found in the vehicle.
Waukegan Police Commander Edgar Navarro said an officer approached Williams' car because it was "suspicious." However, police have not explained the cause for suspicion.
"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.
Witness Darrell Mosier told a different story, saying Williams only reversed after she had been shot.
"The police officer got out of the car. When he told them to stop, he told her to stop, she was scared. She put her hands up, she started yelling, 'Why you got a gun?' She started screaming. He just started shooting," Mosier said.
Williams’ lawyer, famed civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, said the police's narrative can’t be trusted.
“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 statement.
Waukegan is just 15 miles away from Kenosha, Wisconsin, where 29-year-old Jacob Blake was shot in the back multiple times by a police officer on Aug. 23. Demanding justice for Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and dozens more Black people who have suffered in the hands of police, protesters have been coming together around the country in recent months. That has been the case again after the killing of Stinnette, with demonstrators continuing the ongoing fight for justice.
Original story (October 23, 2020): Protests have erupted in a small Illinois town after 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette was shot to death by a police officer on Tuesday night, according to USA Today.
Tafara Williams, his girlfriend, was in the driver's seat of a car with Stinnette in Waukegan when the officer opened fire and injured both of them. Williams is in stable condition but Stinnette succumbed to his injuries on arrival to the hospital.
"When I got there, she said, 'Mama, they just shot us for nothing.' My daughter said she put her hand up, and if she didn’t put her hand up, she said, 'Mama, I would be dead,'" said Cliftina Johnson, Williams' mother, after visiting her daughter at the hospital. The young mother of two is in critical condition but is expected to recover.
Williams' family shared a video of her in the hospital bed with ABC7 Chicago, where she pleaded for answers on why she was shot.
"Why did you shoot? I didn't do nothing wrong. I have a license. You didn't tell me I was under arrest. Why did you just flame up my car like that? Why did you shoot?" Williams said as she recovers from gunshot wounds to her stomach and hand.
Williams has a very different version of events than the one released by police, who said she was backing up her car when the officer opened fire on both of them.
Waukegan Police Commander Edgar Navarro told reporters on Wednesday that around midnight on Tuesday, an officer approached Williams' car because it was "suspicious." They have not explained why it was considered suspicious.
Navarro said the car took off while the officer was investigating the vehicle but another officer nearby saw the same car and approached it.
"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, according to USA Today.
Lake County coroner Dr. Howard Cooper called the shooting a "tragedy" in a statement but the police said the officer, who is a 5-year veteran of the police force and Hispanic, was "in fear for his safety."
An eyewitness at the scene disputed that version of events, saying Williams only reversed after she had been shot.
"The police officer got out of the car. When he told them to stop, he told her to stop, she was scared. She put her up hands, she started yelling, 'Why you got a gun?' She started screaming. He just started shooting," said witness Darrell Mosier.
Zhanellis Banks, Stinnette’s sister, told NewsJax4 that she couldn't even comprehend what was happening to her family.
“This is just something that I see on the news or on TV and think it’ll never happen to me. Now I’m a victim of the same thing. My mother has lost her son. Another African-American family is broken,” she said from her home in Florida.
The local news outlet added that Stinnette went to high school in Jacksonville and had recently moved to Illinois.
“At this point, I’ve cried all my tears. We’re ready for justice. we’re ready for reform. This can’t happen to another family. I want answers. Why is it that people who are supposed to protect us took my brother’s life away? He had no weapons. He had no weapon,” Banks added, noting that Williams has said that Stinnette pleaded for his life before he died.
"Knowing he was in the passenger seat. The girl said he pleaded for his life. He begged them, ‘Please don’t take my life,’” Banks said, adding that the family planned to bring his body back to Jacksonville for the funeral.