Illinois department releases footage of police shooting of Black couple | TheHill – The Hill

Police in Illinois released footage on Wednesday of a police shooting of a Black couple that left a man dead and a woman wounded. 

The Waukegan Police Department released six videos associated with the shooting that killed 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette and wounded his girlfriend, 20-year-old Tafara Williams. 

The videos include footage from two traffic cameras, a dashboard camera, the body camera of the officer who first approached the couple and both the dash camera and body camera of the officer that shot at the couple. 

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The video from the shooting officer’s body camera starts after the shooting. Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham said in a statement that the officer, who has since been fired, did not properly activate the video.

“This was a breach of Waukegan Police Department policies, and one of the reasons for the officer’s termination,” Cunningham said. 

Overall, the videos piece together portions of what led to the Oct. 20 shooting that sparked protests in the area. 

The video from the officer who approached the couple shows him asking the man, “Aren’t you the dude that got in an accident?” The patrol officer had previously been identified as a white officer who had been with the department for five years.

The officer asks the man for his name, and both answer “King,” to which the officer says, “King? I thought you were Stinnette?”

After the officer asks if his name is Marcellis, he says, “Yeah you’re under arrest man.” When a woman’s voice asks “Why?” he responds, “Because I said.” She asks again, prompting the officer to say, “Because he’s got a warrant” and then says “I’ve got Marcellis” into his radio.

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About 15 seconds later, the car rapidly backs up while the officer was leaning on it and speeds away. The officer shouts, “Hey, they just ran me over” before giving the direction they were heading over the radio.

The dash camera of the shooting officer, previously identified as a Hispanic man who has been with the department for five years, showed his car come across the couple’s vehicle before chasing after them. After the couple briefly stopped on the grass, he pulls up beside them and seems to exit his vehicle before the couple’s car began backing up.

The officer yells, “Get out of the f—ing car” before gunshots are heard followed by a crash and a woman screaming. 

The shooting officer’s body camera starts without sound for the first 29 seconds, before a woman can be heard saying, “We didn’t do anything wrong.”

The officer yells in response, “I was right behind you and you almost tried to run me over.” Later, when he tells the other officers on scene, the woman says, “Officer, I was backing up.”

Williams’s lawyers Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci said in a press release that the videos “showed only a portion of the encounter,” with Crump calling it “a clear and disturbing case, yet again, of police creating a false narrative.”

Romanucci added that the use of deadly force “was not appropriate to the circumstances,” and the officer’s first words after turning on his body camera “were to create a false narrative.”

“The lack of transparency here is shameful,” he said in a statement. “Either the officer affirmatively chose not to turn on his body cam, or there is additional footage that we have not yet seen. We call for all information about this tragedy to be made public.”  

Days after the shooting last week, the police department fired the shooting officer for “multiple policy and procedural violations.” 

The FBI joined the Illinois State Police in investigating the shooting on Friday. 

Over the weekend, at a vigil for Stinnette, Cunningham committed to releasing the body camera and dash camera footage once the victim’s family viewed it. 

In his statement on the videos’ release, Cunningham said he is “committed to complete transparency, integrity and justice for all.”

“We are all hurting as a result of this incident and while I intend to allow justice to run its course and not compromise the integrity of the process, I must balance that with my commitment to the families and the community to always maintain transparency,” he said.

Williams told reporters on Tuesday that officers allowed Stinnette to die after they didn’t listen to her pleading with them to take him to the hospital. 

Police previously said the shooting officer indicated he was in fear of his safety when the car started backing up, but Williams has said the couple did nothing to provoke the shooting.

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