WAUKEGAN, Ill. (CBS) — Officers in Waukegan shot and killed a man and shot and wounded a woman late Tuesday night, after police say their car began reversing in the officers’ direction.
As CBS 2’s Chris Tye reported Wednesday night, an emotional Waukegan mayor said the deadly police shooting hit close to home. He personally knew the young man who was shot dead by an officer.
On Wednesday night, the mayor wanted to know just what led up to the incident.
At 11:55 p.m. Tuesday, a Waukegan police officer was investigating a vehicle with two people inside at Liberty and Oak streets, police said. While the officer was investigating, the driver of the car drove off, police said.
Moments later, another officer spotted the car a few blocks away near Martin Luther King Jr. and South avenues. While that second officer was out of his vehicle approaching the suspect car, it began to reverse, police said.
The officer fired his semi-automatic pistol and struck both the driver and passenger. The passenger, a 19-year-old Black man from Waukegan, was pronounced dead at the hospital, police said.
The driver, a Black woman in her 20s from Waukegan, was hospitalized with serious injuries but was expected to recover, police said.
Police said no firearm was recovered from the fleeing vehicle.
“She said he just started shooting. She said, ‘Mama, he let every clip out that he could!’ She said, ‘Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!’” said Clifftina Johnson.
Johnson’s daughter, Tafara Williams, was the one who was shot and wounded. The man who was killed was her boyfriend, Marcellis Stinnette.
“She said she just pled to the police for her life,” Johnson said. “She said that she wanted to see her babies. She said… she want to see her babies.”
Police said the first officer who was investigating the car before it pulled off was a white male with five years’ experience with the department, while the officer who fired the shots was a Hispanic male, also with five years’ experience.
The officer who fired the shots was on paid administrative leave.
Waukegan police Sgt. Edgar Navarro was asked what he would say to people who are upset about the shooting by police.
“We’re also upset with them. It is something that our community, our police department has great concern over, and it’s difficult for all of us,” Navarro said.
The Illinois State Police are investigating, police said. In a separate statement, Lake County State’s Attorney’s Michael Nerheim reiterated that the Illinois State Police will investigate and the Waukegan Police Department will not be involved.
“Once I have had the opportunity to review the entire investigation, I will make a determination regarding whether the officers violated any laws,” Nerheim wrote. “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. At that time, the case entire file will be made available to the public on the state’s attorney’s website at www.lcsao.org.”
Nerheim also emphasized that the process takes time, and the release of information during the investigation will be limited for ethical reasons.
“I am certainly aware these situations are potentially volatile and elicit many emotions,” Nerheim wrote. “I strongly urge and hope for continued calm and patience as the investigation takes place.”
It is an investigation that Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham knows will have interest well beyond his city.
“I look like I look, I look nervous. I am nervous, because I’m nervous for Waukegan,” Cunningham said. “We’ve seen this play out throughout this country, but it just rips through communities.”
The mayor, who knows the family of both people who were shot personally, is calling on anyone with any evidence to come forward.
“Give it to a friend, but we need it now so these questions can be answered,” Cunningham said. “It just doesn’t hurt me. It doesn’t the police department – it hurts Waukegan, Illinois.”
In addition to their being no weapon found in the car, there was no reason found by the victim’s family for the fast and fatal response.
“They dragged her out of that vehicle,” Johnson said. “They took Marcellis’ body first. She didn’t even know — shedon’t know right now — that he’s deceased.”
The initial stop, we are told, was for a “suspicious vehicle.” But the first and second stop were just blocks apart, in the neighborhood that both people whom police shot call home.
A rally is being held in Waukegan on Thursday by the local Black Lives Matter chapter.
Williams was shot in the hand and abdomen. She had one surgery on Wednesday and another one is slated for Thursday at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville.
Waukegan police do have body and dashboard cameras, and that state police now have that video. CBS 2 has to put in a request for that video.
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