Protests Call for Justice After Waukegan Police Shooting Kills Teen, Injures Woman

Police said officers fired "in self defense"

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Peaceful protests took to Waukegan streets Thursday demanding justice after a police shooting left a teen dead and woman seriously injured.

Family members and religious leaders pushed for answers after a teenage boy was killed and a 19-year-old woman was seriously hurt after in a police shooting late Tuesday night.

Waukegan police said 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 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 morning. 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.

On Thursday, Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham said he grew up in the area where the shooting happened and he knows the Stinnette family. He said the investigation will be done with "integrity and transparency."

"I caution everyone: get all the facts. We need them. Get it to us. Get it to me," Cunningham said.

The investigation has been turned over to Illinois State Police. Activists and religious leaders said they are calling 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 press release issued Wednesday.

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.”

The department said that officers wear body cameras and that all squad cars are equipped with cameras, but it is unclear what footage exists of the incident.

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 said they 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.”

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