Waukegan Cop Who Fired Into Vehicle, Killing a Passenger, is Fired

Oct. 23, 2020 noon; Updated 10-24 8:15a

(NPR/AP)---A Waukegan police officer who shot a Black couple inside a vehicle has been fired after committing "multiple policy and procedure violations," according to Waukegan's police chief. 

The officer's firing was announced shortly after Lake County's chief prosecutor said the FBI will join Illinois State Police in investigating the shooting. 

Marcellis Stinnette, a young Black man who was a passenger in the vehicle, was killed. Tafara Williams, the driver, was also shot and is recovering from her injuries at a local hospital. Her relatives have told reporters that she was Stinette's girlfriend.

Police said the shooting took place after a traffic stop late Tuesday night. Waukegan is roughly 25 miles south of Kenosha, Wisc., where Jacob Blake was shot several times at close range by Kenosha police in August and is now paralyzed.

The shooting in Waukegan comes amid national protests calling for racial justice and an end to police brutality that erupted this summer after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The Waukegan Police Department said that shortly at 11:55 p.m. local time Tuesday, an officer "was investigating an occupied vehicle" with two people inside.

The vehicle fled, according to a statement, but was quickly spotted by another officer. At one point, the second officer left his vehicle to investigate.

"While officer #2 was out of his vehicle, and approaching the suspect vehicle, it began to reverse. Officer #2 fired his semi-automatic pistol, in fear for his safety," the police department said.

Police said the officer who discharged is weapon and was fired is Hispanic and had been with the department for five years.

No firearm was recovered from the vehicle. 

The WPD uses body squad car cameras, but the statement from officials did not indicate if or when footage would be released.

Police said the passenger, Stinnette, was taken to a local hospital where he later died from his injuries. He was 19 years old.

Some of Blake's family members attended a Thursday protest to support the Williams and Stinnette families, NPR member station WBEZ reported.

Clifftina Johnson, Williams' mother, told the station that she spoke to her daughter by phone Thursday afternoon after she had multiple surgeries.

"And I told her, 'We are out here, Tafara, and justice will be served,'" Johnson told the station.

Johnson said her daughter was shot in the arm and stomach, The Chicago Sun-Times added. According to Johnson, her daughter's last words to Stinnette were that he would be alright.

"Her last words to her boyfriend were, 'Marcellis, you gonna be OK.' And he said, 'Babe you've been shot.' And then he said, 'I think I'm gonna die,' and she said, 'No you ain't, babe, we got God by our side,'" Johnson said, according to the Sun-Times.