Families Demand Answers After Teen Killed, Woman Hurt in Waukegan Police Shooting

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A pair of families are demanding answers after a teen was killed and a 19-year-old woman was seriously hurt after they were shot by a police officer late Tuesday night.

Waukegan police say the shooting happened just before midnight Tuesday near the intersection of Liberty Street and Oak Street.
Authorities say a vehicle occupied by two people, later identified as Tafara Williams and Marcellis Stinnette, fled the area after an officer approached the vehicle.

Moments later, police say another officer spotted the car near Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and South Avenue. When that officer got out of his car, police say the vehicle began to reverse. The officer then fired his weapon, striking both Williams and Stinnette.  

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

At a press conference Wednesday, the families of the individuals involved in the shooting spoke out, demanding justice in the case.

“We’re looking for peace and justice. That’s all we want,” Francellise Stinnette-Watts, Marcellis’ great-aunt, said. “We want to know what happened. We would like to see the video camera.”

No firearm was recovered from the vehicle, according to Waukegan police. The department says that officers wear body cameras and that all squad cars are equipped with cameras, but it is unclear what footage exists of the incident.

Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham said that the day has been an emotional one for him.

“I know this family personally,” he said. “Their great-grandmother used to babysit me. To speak to them about this, yeah it hurts.”

Cunningham and other officials are concerned that their town could be torn apart by another police shooting.

“I’m a black man who grew up in that same neighborhood. It could have been me,” he said.

As the investigation gets underway, both families are left with only questions about what transpired during the incident.

“They were not thugs. They were not problematic kids,” family spokesman Ricky Carly said. “They didn’t have any issues with anybody out here.”

In accordance with department policy, Illinois 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 press release issued Wednesday.

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