WAUKEGAN, Ill. (CBS) — A first look at dash cam video of the moments when a Waukegan police officer shot into a car, killing a young man and injuring his girlfriend.
As CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross reported Wednesday afternoon, family members said the video raises more questions than answers and some are alleging an attempted coverup.
For the first time, we are seeing what happened moments after a deadly Waukegan police shooting. The public release of the videos captured about a half dozen shots fired, killing 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette and injuring his girlfriend Tafara Williams a week ago Tuesday night.
Illinois State Police allowed the families and attorneys to see the video, but they said not all of it was screened. And the officer who was fired last Friday following the shooting didn’t have his body camera on when shots were fired.
“Once the shooting police officer turned on his body camera on, you heard him say to Tafara, ‘You tried to run me over,’ said family attorney Anthony Romanucci.
.."portions of the incident, the body-worn camera of the officer involved was not activated to properly archive the time of the shooting. This was a breach of Waukegan Police Department policies, and one of the reasons for the officer’s termination."-Mayor of Waukegan
— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) October 28, 2020
As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported, the fatal encounter begins with an officer – not the one who fired his gun – getting out to inspect what police called a suspicious vehicle at Liberty and Oak streets. Immediately, the officer seems to recognize Stinnette in passenger seat.
“What’s your first name? You’re Marcellis, right?” the officer is heard saying.
He then says, “You’re under arrest, man.” When Williams asks why Stinnette is under arrest, the officer replies, “because I said.”
“Hey, come on, show me the hands, pal. I ain’t playing with you because I know you. Marcellis, you’re under arrest,” the officer says.
“He’s under arrest for what though?” Williams says.
“Because he got a warrant,” the officer says.
The officer and Williams continue talking back and forth until Williams drives off.
“They just ran me over,” the officer says.
Another officer picks up the chase. Police said he caught up with the car at Martin Luther King Jr. and South avenues.
Afterward, at least six and possibly seven shots are heard on dashcam videos. But the officer was never seen shooting, as his body cam was not on.
“I was right behind you and you almost tried to run me over!” the officer is heard yelling.
From another angle, the reversing car ends up slamming into a brick wall. By that point, Stinnette and Williams had been shot.
The officer did not turn on his body cam until the shooting was over – a decision that got him fired from the department and has Stinnette’s attorneys asking for transparency.
“This officer had his, ‘Oh, crap,’ moment after the shooting and pushed the button,” Romanucci said. “That’s when he realized that he needed to capture the event.”
‘Why are we putting all this money for body cam video so we can have transparency if the officers aren’t using the body cameras,” said attorney Ben Crump.
Back at the scene, Williams can be heard asking for help as more officers arrive.
“Why did he shoot us? We got shot! Please help!” Williams says in the video. “We don’t have anything in here.”
Someone, presumably another officer, says, “Who shot?”
“I did,” the officer who fired the shots says. “They almost ran me over.”
“No I didn’t,” Williams says. “Officer, I was backing up.”
Williams survived the shooting, but Stinnette was pronounced dead at Vista Medical Center East.
The Stinnette family was not satisfied with the revelations from the video, and remained clearly distraught Wednesday. At a news conference, Stinnette’s grandmother began screaming and collapsed.
“That was my grandmother,” said Stinnette’s cousin, Zhanellis Banks with tears welling up in her eyes. “She just wants to know why they murdered her grandson in cold blood. She wants to know how can he be murdered.”
The FBI is also involved in the investigation.
CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross and Charlie De Mar contributed to this report.
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