Cops: Fatal Shooting Was Self-Defense. Girlfriend: It Was 'for Nothing'

19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette shot dead in Waukegan, Ill., after confrontation with cops
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 23, 2020 2:02 PM CDT
Girlfriend: 'Mama, They Just Shot Us for Nothing'
Sherrellis Sheria Stinnette, grandmother of Marcellis Stinnette, 19, is comforted Thursday during a protest rally in Waukegan, Ill., for her grandson.   (Brian Hill/Daily Herald via AP)

A police shooting in an Illinois city this week has left a Black teen dead and his girlfriend hospitalized, with protesters and family members demanding that the feds get to the bottom of what happened. Per CBS News, police in Waukegan say that 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette was the passenger in a car driven by Tafara Williams, and that the fatal shooting happened after the vehicle went into reverse and was fired upon by a police officer, who said he feared for his life as the car neared him. More on what happened:

  • The incident: Police say a white officer was investigating a suspicious vehicle shortly before midnight Tuesday when the car suddenly sped off, per the Daily Herald. Authorities say that when a second officer came across the vehicle on a different street a few minutes later, it started to back up toward him, and that the officer started firing his semiautomatic firearm because he feared for his life.

  • The killed and injured: After the shooting, Stinnette was taken to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. Williams was also hospitalized, with serious injuries after her mother says she was shot in the arm and abdomen, but she's expected to recover, per the Chicago Tribune. No firearms are reported to have been found in the vehicle.
  • The second officer: The cop who fired at the vehicle hasn't been publicly IDed, but officials say he's a Hispanic officer who's been with the Waukegan force for five years. He's now on administrative leave while the investigation into the shooting continues. The first officer has also been placed on leave, per USA Today.
  • Self-defense? Although Waukegan police are saying the officer shot at the vehicle to protect himself, Stinnette's family is pushing back at that narrative. Cliftina Johnson, Williams' mother, said when she visited her daughter at the hospital, Williams said, "Mama, they just shot us for nothing."
  • Ongoing probe: Illinois State Police are investigating, including by looking at dashcam and bodycam footage from the involved officers. Their findings will be turned over to Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim, who says he'll open up the "entire case file" to the public once the probe is finished. "This will take some time," he said. "We're all upset about this, but I just hope people will stay calm and respect [the] process."
  • Appeal to the feds: Dozens of protesters gathered in Waukegan Thursday, calling for the DOJ to look into what happened. "We don't want the police investigating the police," a local Black Lives Matter activist tells the Tribune. "We want the Department of Justice coming in."
  • Forgiveness amid grief: Sherrellis Sheria Stinnette, Stinnette's grandmother, doesn't think what happened to her grandson was right, but she thinks it's a judgment best left to a higher power. "The police officer, he's forgiven," she said Thursday, per the Tribune. "My grandson died with a smile on his face. I know he did."
(More Marcellis Stinnette stories.)

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