The woman injured in a police shooting in suburban Chicago last week that killed her boyfriend suggested that cops left him to die even though he was still alive, sharply contradicting a narrative provided by the Waukegan Police Department.
Tafara Williams, recovering from “substantial” injuries she sustained in the shooting, spoke Tuesday for the first time since Marcellis Stinnette was killed Oct. 20. She described in an emotional video the series of events that led to the fateful encounter in Waukegan. The video was posted to social media just a few hours after lawyers held a press conference to allow the families of Wiliams and Stinnette an opportunity to address the public.
Williams, who is 20 and also shared a young child with Stinnette, recounted the harrowing night that included a police officer pulling up in a squad car behind them while they were legally parked in her vehicle on the side of a street. She said the police car didn’t have its lights or sirens on when it pulled up. She also said she turned on all of her car’s interior lights so the officer would see that she and Stinnette, 19, were unarmed and not a threat.
“I wasn’t doing anything illegal,” Williams said in the video.
But then she went on to describe a troubling scenario in which the officer knowingly referred to both of them by their first names and called her “Marcellis baby mother,” claims that reinforce the lingering and still-unanswered question of why the officer really approached them in the first place. It was unclear whether the officer asked them to show their IDs.
Williams said the cop “started harassing Marcellis” while keeping “his left hand on his gun.” She said the cop claimed he knew Stinnette “from jail.”
Williams said when she asked if she and Stinnette were under arrest, the officer “got on his cellphone.” She said she drove away slowly only to encounter “another officer there waiting for us” when she turned the corner onto a different street. That prompted her to lose control of the car, she said.
“The officer was shooting at us,” she said.
She said her car crashed into a building and the officer “kept shooting.”
She said she was bleeding profusely and confirmed Stinnette was still alive.
“Please don’t shoot. I have a baby,” she said she told the officers. “We have a baby. We don’t want to die.”
She said an officer dragged her away as she begged them to take Stinnette first because he had recently undergone surgery.
“They ignored me,” she said.
Then Williams said police treated Stinnette as if he was dead.
“They laid Marcellis on the ground and covered him up with a blanket while he was still breathing,” she said through tears. “I know he was still alive and they took that away from me.”
She said the officer who shot them “allowed him to die. He wanted us to bleed out on the ground.”
Watch the full video below.
Williams’ account differs sharply from the Waukegan Police Department, which issued a press release claiming her car “fled” once an officer approached it. The press release never said why the officer approached the car. The press release added 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.
The fact that Williams survived the shooting is on-brand for the young woman, her mother said during a press conference held in front of the Daniel T. Drew Municipal Complex in Waukegan on Tuesday.
“Tafara is the strongest person I ever met,” Tina Johnson said while demanding justice and for the police to be held “accountable for what they did to Marcellis and Tafara.” She offered an emotional appeal for America to “stop this disease of violence.”
Williams’ father demanded the federal government to get involved in the case and said the shooting has left him unable to sleep at night.
“I’m getting very angry and I can’t hold my anger much longer,” Trevor Williams said.
Ben Crump, a civil rights lawyer representing Williams, said that he and the families involved expected to “soon” see the bodycam and dashcam videos from last week’s shooting and said local officials were working to be transparent.
Crump compared the Waukegan shooting to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August.
“It seems to not be de-escalation when you’re dealing with African Americans,” Crump accurately pointed out. “It’s almost as if you shoot first and ask questions later. And that seems to be the connection.”
Crump described Williams’ injuries as “substantial” but declined to offer any “vivid details.” However, he did say Williams would have “permanent scars and disfigurement.” He added: “She will never be the same.”
The officer who shot at Williams and Stinnette was only identified as being Hispanic after it was reported he was fired Saturday.