For the first time, the parents of a Waukegan teen are speaking out after the 19-year-old was shot and killed by a police officer last week.
“It was the longest journey of our lives. Minutes seemed like hours. Hours seemed like days,” Selvin Holmes, the father of Marcellis Stinnette, said.
Stinnette was killed during an incident last week that has produced clashing narratives over what exactly transpired. Waukegan police say that Stinnette was riding in a vehicle driven by Tafara Williams late Tuesday when that vehicle fled a traffic stop. That vehicle was later spotted by another officer.
Police say that as the officer approached, the vehicle started moving in reverse and that the officer, fearing for his safety, opened fire.
Stinnette was later pronounced dead, and Williams remains hospitalized with injuries suffered in the shooting.
The officer who shot the couple was fired late Friday by Waukegan Police Chief Wayne Walles, who said in a brief statement that the officer, a five-year veteran of the force, had committed “multiple policy and procedure violations.”
Williams, still in the hospital a week after the shooting, disputes the police narrative of the incident.
“I lost more than a boyfriend that day. I lost the love of my life and the father of my 7-month-old son,” she said. “There was a crash and I lost control. The officer was shooting at us. I kept screaming ‘I don’t have a gun,’ but he kept shooting.”
Stinnette’s parents made the trip north from Florida this week. Attorneys say that video of the incident will be shown to the family on Wednesday, then will be released to the public.
Stinnette’s parents say they know tough times lay ahead both for their family and the city of Waukegan, but have asked for peace no matter what the video shows.
“If you’re helping me, if you say you love me and you are reaching out to me, don’t you dare burn nothing down,” Zarvellis Holmes, Stinnette's mother, said. “Don’t tear nothing up, and don’t hurt nobody, because I’m not for it.”
Civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton has said he will help pay for the funeral, and called for justice for the officer involved in the shooting.
“This policeman ought to go to court,” he said. “There has got to be one standard of justice, or it’s not justice for all.”