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FBI joins investigation into Waukegan police officer who shot 2 people, 1 fatally

Marcellis Stinnette, 19, of Waukegan. | Family provided photo.

The Lake County state’s attorney has requested the U.S. Department of Justice — FBI to assist in investigating the Waukegan police officer who shot a couple, killing a man.

“I contacted the U.S. Department of Justice to request they review the circumstances surrounding this incident. I have been advised that they have agreed to do so,” Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim said on Friday.

“I am confident in the work being done by the Illinois State Police and welcome the assistance of the FBI. 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. Having all available resources and as many independent fresh eyes as possible is critical to this process,” Nerheim said.

Marcellis Stinnette, 19, of Waukegan, died as a result of a gunshot wound, according to Lake County Coroner Dr. Howard Cooper.

Stinnette and his girlfriend, Tafarra Williams, were both sitting in a car near Liberty Street and Oak Street in Waukegan around 11:55 p.m. Tuesday.

Williams, who police identified as a woman in her 20s from Waukegan, was in the driver seat and Stinnette was in the passenger seat.

Waukegan Police Department Cmdr. Edgar Navarro said that the vehicle fled from an officer who was attempting to investigate the occupied vehicle.

Moments later, a second police officer spotted the vehicle near Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and South Avenue in Waukegan.

The officer approached the vehicle and it began to reverse, Navarro said, adding that the officer then fired his pistol in fear of his safety.

Williams and Stinnette both suffered gunshot wounds. Stinnette was transported by ambulance to Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan where he was pronounced dead.

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Williams was transported by ambulance to an area hospital in serious condition. She is expected to recover.

“I don’t know why they did this to my baby, I don’t understand it. I’m not going to get it. But lord knows they need to stop being trigger happy,” Clifftina Johnson, Williams’ mother told reporters on Wednesday.

The Illinois State Police is leading the investigation, Navarro said.

No guns were found in Williams’ vehicle and Waukegan police officers are equipped with both body cameras and squad car dash cameras.

Both officers involved each have five years of experience with the Waukegan Police Department.

A protest march took place Thursday led by the family and the Lake County chapter of Black Lives Matter. It began at the intersection where the shooting occurred and ended at the Waukegan Police Department.

“If state charges are approved, the court process will begin, which will be open to the public. If state charges are not approved, a detailed statement will be provided explaining the facts, applicable laws, and basis for the decision. At that time, my office’s case file will also be made available to the public on the state’s attorney’s office website at www.lcsao.org,” Nerheim said.

“I continue to urge calm as we undertake this process and pledge complete transparency. Once again our condolences continue to go out to the families and friends of Marcellis Stinnette and our prayers for a speedy recovery go out to the woman wounded in this unfortunate situation,” he added.


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