An unarmed Black teen was killed and his girlfriend was critically wounded in a police shooting Tuesday night in suburban Chicago that has prompted more questions than answers. Marcellis Stinnette, 19, died in the shooting in the Illinois city of Waukegan that police claimed only happened because the car he was a passenger in reversed toward the officer who shot them. However, witnesses said the police officer hit them with his car before he opened fire.
In the end, another unarmed Black man lost his life and his family is demanding answers for an incident that at face value seems like it was completely preventable.
“This is just something that I see on the news or on TV and think it’ll never happen to me. Now I’m a victim of the same thing,” Zhanellis Banks, Stinnette’s sister, told News 4 Jax in Florida, where she lives. “My mother has lost her son. Another African-American family is broken.”
Stinnette’s girlfriend was identified as Tafara Williams, who is reportedly in her 20s and the mother of Stinnette’s young child.
The Associated Press reported that her mother said she and Stinnette “hadn’t done anything to provoke the shooting.”
Local news outlet the Press Herald reported that Williams “and a witness contend the officer rammed the vehicle she was driving and began shooting.”
The Waukegan Police Department issued a press release claiming that the car “fled” once an officer approached the vehicle. The press release never said why the officer approached the car. The press release said that a different police officer saw the car “moments later” and when he walked toward the car, “it began to reverse.”
That’s when the cop “fired his semi-automatic pistol, in fear for his safety,” the press release said.
Police did not recover a gun from the vehicle Stinnette and Williams were in.
Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim released a statement Thursday morning acknowledging the shooting and announcing his office would be investigating the incident.
“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 in part. “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.”
The officers involved were wearing body cameras, but none of the footage has been released as of Thursday afternoon.
“At this point, I’ve cried all my tears,” Banks, Stinnette’s sister, added. “We’re ready for justice. we’re ready for reform. This can’t happen to another family.”
The families of Stinnette and Williams have planned a protest that will begin at the site of the shooting before marching to the Waukegan Police Department on Thursday, according to ABC 7 Chicago.
An online petition is demanding the arrest and firing of the officer who shot Stinnette.
This is America.