Waukegan mayor, Stinnette family preach patience at prayer vigil
Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham and a spokesperson for the family of Marcellis Stinnette urged people gathered for a prayer vigil Sunday in memory of the Black teen killed by a police officer to let the process of justice take its due course.
A large crowd flocked to the corner of South Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Helmholz Avenue for the vigil, one of several events held in the wake of Tuesday's fatal shooting of Stinnette, 19, by an officer who's since been fired.
Speakers included Cunningham, police Chief Wayne Walles, relatives of Stinnette and Tafara Williams -- who was wounded in the shooting -- and family members of Jacob Blake and George Floyd.
Also present was Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim, who last week asked the U.S. Department of Justice to review the case.
Williams' sister, Sasha Williams, said her sister is working to recover her strength so she can return to caring for her children.
"We shouldn't have to say, 'Don't shoot us,'" Williams said. "We shouldn't have to come outside and fear for our lives. We shouldn't be afraid of the police."
Walles offered his condolences to the families of Stinnette and Williams.
"There is power in prayer, and the more of us that are together and praying, and praying for each other and everybody involved in this terrible incident, will help us heal and move forward," he said.
Cunningham urged the community to "respect the process" and "if you don't like it, then we go to work."
But his comments were interrupted by Waukegan resident Rayon Edwards, who was critical of the city's initial response to the shooting.
"We needed you to do that for three days. We have been watching for three days. We have been fighting for three days," he said.
Cunningham said the city intends to publicly release the bodycam and dashcam video recordings of the shooting, but only after the Stinnette family sees it first.
"Let's be clear, this situation requires their approval before we move on," he said.
Others, including Stinnette's cousin, Satrese Stallworth, were more appreciative of the city's response.
"(Stinnette's) life was stolen on Tuesday. On Friday, an officer was (fired)," Stallworth said. "That speaks volumes."
But she said the fight is just beginning.
"We're asking that you be patient," she said. "Don't tear up. Don't burn down. Don't destroy."
"I don't want (anybody) to think that we are trying to be rowdy," Edwards added. "We're not. What we want is what we have been asking for, and that is justice."
Police said Stinnette and Williams were in a vehicle that fled a traffic stop late Tuesday. It was spotted a short time later by an officer on patrol. While the officer was approaching the vehicle, it began moving in reverse, leading the officer to open fire, police said.
City officials released a statement Friday night saying they had fired the officer, a five-year veteran, for multiple policy and procedure violations.