A grieving family is demanding answers and justice after a 19-year-old Black man was fatally shot by a police officer in Waukegan, Ill.—a suburb of Chicago—during a traffic stop on Tuesday. The officer shot both the driver and passenger of the car involved in the stop. One shooting victim survived and is now in the hospital.
News 4 JAX reports that Marcellis Stinnette had recently moved from Jacksonville, Fla., to Chicago, according to his family. Waukegan Police said that the events that led to the shooting happened just before midnight Tuesday when officers were called to investigate a “suspicious vehicle.” The car drove off when they arrived.
From News 4:
Sometime later, another officer spotted the car. According to police, as the officer approached on foot, the car reversed and the officer fired his pistol, he said, out of fear for his safety.
Stinnette, a 19-year-old passenger in the vehicle, died at the scene. His girlfriend, Tafara Williams, who was driving the car, is now in the hospital with serious injuries.
“When I got there, she said, ‘Mama, they just shot us for nothing,’” Johnson said. “My daughter said she put her hand up, and if she didn’t put her hand up, she said, ‘Mama, I would be dead.’”
Body camera and squad car video were turned over to the Illinois State Police and investigators confirmed that no weapons were found in the vehicle.
“This is just something that I see on the news or on TV and think it’ll never happen to me,” Stinnette’s sister, Zhanellis Banks, told News 4. “Now I’m a victim of the same thing. My mother has lost her son. Another African-American family is broken.”
Stinnette’s sister Tanellis Holmes told reporters through tears that her brother “didn’t deserve to go out like this. He didn’t deserve that at all.”
Banks, however, told reporters that “at this point, I’ve cried all my tears,” and she’s ready for the fight for justice on behalf of her brother.
“We’re ready for justice. we’re ready for reform. This can’t happen to another family,” Banks said.
The unidentified officer who the Sun-Times described as “a Hispanic five-year veteran of the department” who “fired his pistol out of ‘fear for his safety,’” is on administrative leave for the duration of the investigation, according to Waukegan Police Commander Edgar Navarro.
Meanwhile, State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim said in a statement that it may take several weeks for the investigation into Stinnette’s death to conclude.
“Once I have had the opportunity to review the entire investigation, I will make a determination regarding whether the officers violated any laws,” Nerheim said, the Sun-Times reports. “Should it be determined the officers violated a law, they will be criminally charged. If laws were not broken, I will write up a detailed statement that will completely review the facts, show the evidence, explain applicable laws, and give our reasoning for the final decision.”
According to ABC 7, protesters gathered in Waukegan to march for justice on behalf of Stinnette Thursday.