A Black woman who was shot by police last week in suburban Waukegan said Tuesday that officers did nothing more than cover her boyfriend with a blanket after he was shot and left him on the ground to die.
Tafara Williams, 20, spoked to reporters during a Zoom call from her hospital bed as she described the Oct. 20 shooting in Waukegan that killed 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette.
"They allowed him to die,” Williams said. “They wanted us to bleed out on the ground.”
In detailing what happened for the first time, Williams said she was simply sitting in her car in front of her home with Stinnette smoking a cigarette because she did not want to smoke near her child. She said a white officer pulled up and started to question her, telling Stinnette, who is Black, that she knew him from when he was in jail.
She said after she and Stinnette both raised their hands to show the officer that they were unarmed, she pulled away slowly. She said the officer did not follow her but that a short time later another officer was “waiting for us.”
“There was a crash, I lost control, the officer was shooting at us,” she said, crying. “I was screaming, ‘I don’t have a gun,' (but) he kept shooting... I kept asking him why he was shooting.”
“My blood was gushing out," she said. "... They would not give us an ambulance until we got out of the car.”
She said that she could hear Stinnette breathing and begged the police to take him to the hospital first because he had recently had surgery, but her pleas were ignored.
Three days ago, Williams told protesters in a telephone call from her hospital bed that she would continue to fight for justice on Stinnette’s behalf. “He didn’t deserve it, and they waited for him to die,” she said Saturday on a call that a crowd of protesters heard after her mother put a megaphone to her cellphone.
“I won’t sleep until Marcellis gets justice...” she said. “And my son don’t have a father no more, but I’m fighting for him, and I’m in this hospital and I’m trying to be strong.”
The press briefing organized by her attorney, Benjamin Crump, comes exactly one week after the shooting. Police have said the vehicle driven by Williams, with Stinnette in the passenger’s seat, fled a traffic stop conducted by a white officer. They said that a short time later, another officer, who is Hispanic, approached the vehicle, he opened fire out of fear for his own safety when the vehicle moved in reverse toward him. No weapon was found in the vehicle.
On Friday, the police department fired the officer who shot Williams and Stinnette. Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham said last week that dashcam and bodycam videos of the shooting would be made public after relatives of the shooting victims have watched it.
The video is particularly important because the version of events given by police appears to contradict the version that Williams’ mother, Clifftina Johnson, gave after she visited her daughter in the hospital. Johnson has said that her daughter told her that she and Stinnette did nothing to provoke the officer before he opened fire.
Cunningham has urged the community to remain calm and to “respect” the process. Protests since the incident have been peaceful, and Waukegan has avoided the kind of looting and violence that occurred in nearby Kenosha, Wisconsin, after a white police officer shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, in the back seven times in August. Blake survived, but his family has said that he is paralyzed from the waist down.
Crump on Tuesday praised Cunningham for his openness and willingness to make sure the truth of what happens comes out.