Videos released Wednesday from the fatal officer-involved shooting in Waukegan conflict with the victim’s account and show her vehicle fleeing police after an officer tried to arrest the woman’s boyfriend on a warrant.
Tafara Williams, of Waukegan, and Marcellis Stinnette, 19, of Waukegan, were sitting in a car near Liberty Street and Oak Street in Waukegan in front of Williams’ home around 11:55 p.m. on October 20.
Bodycam footage shows an officer’s squad car pull up next to their vehicle and stop.
“Aren’t you the dude who got into an accident? You got into an accident right? What’s your name?” the officer asks.
Stinnette tells the officer his name is “King” and the officer replies, “I thought you were Stinnette?”
The officer walks around to the passenger seat of the car where Stinnette was seated and tells him he’s under arrest because he has a warrant.
Williams, who was seated in the driver’s seat, puts the car into gear and speeds off, nearly running the officer over.
A short time later, a second Waukegan police officer spots the vehicle as it pulls out of a driveway and drives around the first officer’s car, which had its emergency lights activated.
A brief police pursuit ensues and the car slid off the road near Helmholz Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. The officer jumps out of his car and yells “Get out of the fu—– car” as the car reverses towards the officer, dashcam footage shows.
The officer fires six shots into the vehicle, striking both Williams and Stinnette, as it reverses before coming to a stop as it crashed into a building.
Stinnette was transported by ambulance to Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan where he was pronounced dead. Williams was transported by ambulance to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville in serious condition.
Waukegan Police Chief Wayne Walles said the officer that fired the shots, who is Hispanic and has five years of experience with the department, was fired for “multiple policy and procedure violations.” The officer’s name has not been released.
“The body-worn camera of the officer involved was not activated to properly archive the time of the shooting. This was a breach of Waukegan Police Department policies, and one of the reasons for the officer’s termination, “Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham said on Wednesday.
Williams spoke from her hospital bed on Tuesday and shared her view of the incident.
“I rolled down the window and turned on all the lights in the car so the officer could see. I had no weapons and I wasn’t doing anything illegal.” Williams said.
“I asked the officer if we were free to leave. The officer took a few steps away from the car and got on his cellphone. I drove away very slowly because I was scared to get out of the car,” Williams said.
“That day, I lost the love of my life and the father of my 7-month-old son. [The baby] is the only thing I have left of Marcellis,” Williams said tearfully.
Williams also claimed that she and Stinnette both had their hands up and that the first officer who approached their car harassed them and knew Stinnette by name.
Williams also claimed that the first officer never turned on his lights or sirens.
No guns were found in Williams’ vehicle. The U.S. Department of Justice and Illinois State Police are investigating the shooting.
“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,” Lake County State’s Attorney Michael 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.