U.S. Department of Justice to Investigate Waukegan Police Shooting That Killed Teen

Police said officers fired "in self defense"

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The U.S. Department of Justice plans to investigate the circumstances surrounding a Waukegan police shooting in which a teenage boy was killed and a 20-year-old woman was injured, the Lake County State's Attorney announced Friday.

Waukegan police said the shooting happened just before midnight Tuesday near the intersection of Liberty Street and Oak Street.

On Thursday, peaceful protesters took to the streets, demanding answers about what happened.

Authorities say a vehicle occupied by two people, later identified as Tafara Williams and Marcellis Stinnette, 19, fled the area after an officer approached the vehicle.

Moments later, police said another officer spotted the car near Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and South Avenue. When that officer got out of his car, police said the vehicle began to reverse.

According to officials, the officer then fired his weapon "in self defense," striking both Williams and Stinnette.  

"I heard the girl. Her hands went up -- 'I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to do it' -- no gun or nothing," witness to the incident Darrell Mosier said.

Police said that Williams, who was driving the car, was taken to an area hospital with serious injuries, but is expected to recover. She underwent surgery Thursday. Stinnette, who was the passenger in the vehicle, was later pronounced dead at an area hospital.

No weapons were found in the vehicle, police said.

The investigation was turned over to Illinois State Police. Activists and religious leaders have called for a special prosecutor to be appointed to the case.

In accordance with department policy, state police will conduct an independent investigation into the shooting. The matter will then be turned over to the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office.

According to a news release from Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim, he contacted Justice Department officials on Wednesday, and they agreed to review the incident.

On Friday, officials announced that the FBI is assisting the Illinois State Police in the investigation.

“The FBI is aware of the death of Marcellis Stinnette and will review all available facts of the incident to determine if a federal response is warranted,” FBI Special Agent Siobhan Johnson said.

Nerheim said he is confident in the work being done by the Illinois State Police and welcomes 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," he stated. "Having all available resources and as many independent fresh eyes as possible is critical to this process."

Williams is being represented by Ben Crump, a national civil rights attorney, who also represents Jacob Blake as well as the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

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